Nipsey Hussle: An Icon of the American Dream
Posted On April 3, 2019
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Hussle Gave Back to the Community
On Sunday, March 31, Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot to death in cold blood in front of a south Los Angeles clothing store that he owned and operated, sending shockwaves throughout all walks of life. Though some may write off his passing as just another senseless death in hip-hop, Nipsey Hussle stands out for all he did to give back to his childhood community.
In an age where the rap scene is populated with endless expenditures on cars and jewelry, Nipsey Hussle followed the beat of his own drum. He will forever be remembered as what it truly means to live the American Dream.
The Nipsey Hussle Story
Nipsey Hussle, real name Ermias Joseph Asghedom, was born on August 15, 1985, and spent his entire childhood in the Crenshaw neighborhood of south LA. As a teen, he became a member of the Rollin’ 60s Neighborhood Crips gang to support himself as he started his music career. After releasing a number of mixtapes, he made his 2013 project Crenshaw available to download for free, while also selling 1,000 physical copies for $100 each. Rap mogul Jay-Z took notice and bought 100 of them, while the rest sold out in less than a day.
However, Hussle was not simply satisfied with having money. He wanted to make a difference with that money, so he invested in the Crenshaw and Hyde Park areas. He began opening businesses, even buying out a shopping center where he worked just a decade before, and put in a clothing store. In all of his businesses, which also included a barbershop, a Creole seafood restaurant, and a basic needs store, Hussle always hired people in need as well as up-and-coming artists.
Committed to Crenshaw
Even beyond opening stores, Nipsey Hussle’s philanthropy knew no bounds. He was dedicated to giving the youth reprieve from the gang life that plagues the area. He was instrumental in the reopening of World on Wheels, a haven for kids and teens in the area that also once served as neutral ground in the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, Hussle made frequent contributions to Destination Crenshaw, an arts project that turned almost a mile and a half of Crenshaw Boulevard into a springboard for the arts to thrive in the local black community.
59th Street Elementary School, which lies in the heart of the violence-ridden black community, also held a special place in Nipsey Hussle’s heart. He gave a pair of shoes to every child there, and he also invested in upgrading the facilities, in particular the basketball courts, which also included principles to live by painted around the edges.
Additionally, Hussle blessed the local youth with opportunities for upward mobility. The night before his major label debut album Victory Lap was released, he announced Vector90, a co-working community focusing on bringing entrepreneurship to the inner city. In addition to Vector90, he also co-founded Too Big To Fail, a STEM center in Crenshaw, and planned to develop others in cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
Hussle Helped Others
Outside of fiscal contributions, Hussle knew that civil discourse can solve more problems than protesting and rioting ever could. On the day he was mourned, he was scheduled to meet with LAPD and others to discuss ways to end gang violence. He knew that the way to repair relations with authorities was to sit down and have a discussion, not to destroy personal property and effectively hold them at gunpoint.
Hussle also went to great lengths to let those working outside of his projects know how much they were appreciated. One woman took to Instagram to tell the story of her husband, a street light electrician who Hussle often visited, gave food and refreshments, thanked for all his hard work, and even offered free merchandise.
A True American
Nipsey Hussle is a prime example of what it means to live the American Dream. He was born with next to nothing, resorted to selling incense and his CDs out of the back of his car, and eventually propelled himself to prosperity. Once there, he used his financial situation to make sure that many more would follow his same path.
What makes his success that much more incredible is that he did it all without the help of any government assistance. While many may promote government intervention/assistance as the only way for one to escape the cycle of poverty, it instead contributes to this problem by diminishing the perceived need for a well-paying full-time job.
However, that is not to say that there is no way out for those in the inner cities. If more affluent people can commit themselves to helping improve inner-city black and Latino communities just as Nipsey Hussle did, the results will speak for themselves. Despite capitalism working well for Hussle, there are some who advocate for socialism. In a socialist state, Hussle’s money would not have been his to do as he wished. Instead, his earnings would go to those who did/do not earn it.
In reality, Hussle’s situation is exactly what capitalism stands for: being able to craft a living for oneself out of nothing and then turning around and helping others do the same. It is often said that the poor cannot be helped by simply tearing down the rich, and Nipsey Hussle is a prime example of this. Had his money been confiscated by the government out of pure jealousy, he would not have been able to provide so many people with a steady job, a better school, and a path to success.
His American Dream Ended Too Soon
The only unfortunate aspect of Nipsey Hussle’s contributions is that he had to die an untimely death in order for the spotlight he deserved to be shone upon his efforts. Nonetheless, he will always be rightly remembered as a man with an unparalleled commitment to bettering the community that raised him.
All of his countless achievements were made possible by his being allowed to do with his money what he wished, and not having to worry about government interference. When those running for the highest office in the land advocate to bring down people like him, remember the name of Nipsey Hussle. Remember how much he was free to do for his neighborhood.
Reid Neason is a writer for NRN, He's a computer science major from Houston, Texas, but most importantly, he's the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin' Texas Aggie class of 2022!