Los Angeles, California: Grammy-nominated Rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed Sunday afternoon, shot in broad daylight outside his store in South Los Angeles in a burst of gunfire that left two other people wounded, police said.
Hussle, who was known as much for his music as for his work in the community, was hit multiple times about 3:20 p.m. in front of his Marathon Clothing store at 3420 W. Slauson Ave., police said. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was 33.
Los Angeles police closed off the neighborhood near the store. About 7:45 p.m., they were still searching for a suspect who officers said had fled the scene either on foot or in a vehicle.
As the sun set and LAPD and news helicopters circled overheard, hundreds of Hussle’s fans and friends gathered at Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, playing his music and waiting for updates. Some bought blue and white candles at a nearby liquor store and put them behind behind yellow police tape. A little girl held a poster of Hussle’s debut album cover with the words “RIP NIPSEY” bedazzled over it.
Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was an up-and-coming hip-hop artist, who after releasing his highly anticipated debut album “Victory Lap” in 2018, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album.
But those who knew him, described Hussle as a pillar of the community.
The rapper owned several businesses on the block where he was shot, said 54-year-old Hyde Park resident Glenn Taylor, including a burger restaurant, a barbershop and a fish market. He was known to give jobs to resident who were struggling to get by, some of them homeless. He once gave a pair of shoes to every student at 59th Street Elementary School. He also donated money to renovate the school’s playground and basketball courts.
Taylor, whose daughter was a childhood friend of Hussle’s, said he was stunned.
“He did so much for our neighborhood,” he said. “That’s why I’m here today. This has to stop.”
Hussle grew up in South L.A. in the 1990s. He made no secret of his early life in a street gang, saying in a 2014 interview with YouTube channel Vlad TV, that he had joined the Rollin’ 60s, a notorious Crips gang clique, as a teenager.
“We dealt with death, with murder,” he said in 2018. “It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it. I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think L.A. suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”
Malik Spellman, a community activist, remembers when a teenage Hussle would staple flyers advertising his new music to telephone poles in South L.A. When his career took off, Hussle never forgot where he came from, Spellman said. He put most of the money he made back into the neighborhood.
When a local family lost a loved one to gun violence, he would sometimes give them money to help pay for funeral arrangements.
“The man was instrumental in a lot of stuff. Fighting gentrification, trying to stop gang violence,” said Spellman, who lighted a blue candle Sunday evening in Hussle’s honor and placed it on a sidewalk near the crime scene. “The facts are, he was a good person.”
News of the rapper’s murder rippled across social media on Sunday, with several of fellow musicians and other celebrities took tweeted their shock and condolences.
L.A. City Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson also released a statement, saying “Hussle had a vision of a neighborhood built for and by the sons and daughters of South L.A. During his life, he moved from shadows into the bright hope of freedom and community revitalization.”
Hussle was involved in the new Destination Crenshaw arts project — Harris-Dawson called him “the inspiration” behind the naming of it. And, last year, Hussle opened a co-working space named Vector 90 in the Crenshaw district, designed to call attention to the lack of diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The goal of the co-working space, Hussle said, was to serve as a conduit between underrepresented groups and corporate partners in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Hussle developed a deep love of both music and technology while growing up.
“In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,'” he said in 2018. “And that’s cool but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ I think that with me being influential as an artist and young and coming from the inner city, it makes sense for me to be one of the people that’s waving that flag.”
Hussle combined his interests in several entrepreneurial pursuits, including the store outside of which he was shot. He called it a “smart store” because visitors could use an app to enhance their experience while shopping for his fashion brand, The Marathon Clothing.
On Sunday evening, Christian Nuñez drove from Santa Monica to Hyde Park to pay his respects. Strapped across his chest was a cylindrical speaker thumping Hussle’s music. Nuñez said he was homeless on the streets of Hyde Park as a teenagers, and he instantly connected with Hussle’s lyrics.
“It’s like a war zone out here,” the 23-year-old said, “and he was trying to make it better.”
Ominously, Hustle tweeted shortly before he died: “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”