Forced to Live Without: an Open Letter Dedicated to Ermias "Nipsey Hussle" Asghedom

Erizku, Awol. South Los Angeles, CA. January 2019. California Love with Nipsey Hussle and Lauren London (with Artemus the horse).  GQ Magazine .

Erizku, Awol. South Los Angeles, CA. January 2019. California Love with Nipsey Hussle and Lauren London (with Artemus the horse). GQ Magazine.

I’ve been searching for the words to say...about why I’m taking this death so personally. Something about this hit so close to home and apparently, I’m not the only person - fan or not - who was impacted in this way. It’s been a major energy shift, for sure...that I haven’t been able to figure out. If I’m feeling this way as someone a passive fan, I can only imagine what it’s like for his family, friends, and loved ones, the chosen tribe of people he trusted.

Nipsey Hussle, a man who carried himself with integrity; someone who held unwavering respect and loyalty towards the people he loved, and someone with relentless dedication to (the empowerment of) his community. Despite his gang affiliations and a crime inflicted past, he wasn’t a thug; he was a revolutionary with a powerful mind, who was well on his way and gaining serious momentum with his efforts to transform the world, starting with his own neighborhood.

It’s hard to phantom what Lauren London - a woman who seemed so incredibly happy to be by his side - must be going through, how his children are processing all of this, or how his siblings are managing to cope. In all sincerity, my heart goes out to each of them and pray that God gives them guidance and comfort. I pray that ultimately their mourning transforms them in positive ways and inspires them to live on purpose…out loud…and never stop spreading the message that Nipsey was trying so hard to infiltrate. I hope they are able to tap into the power within, even if the motivation is to honor what - or who, rather - they’re now forced to live without.

XXL Freshmen 2010 cover.

XXL Freshmen 2010 cover.

Emerging as an independent artist from one of my personal favorite XXL Freshmen classes, Nipsey Hussle’s music honestly had not been on my radar since 2010, back when the blog era was beginning to become the cornerstone of underground hip-hop culture. Like many of his peers, he came on the scene suited and ready with a mission that was loud and clear from the very beginning: to maximize his potential as an artist, build wealth through his passions, and take care of his people, a true king, indeed.

As I’m listening to Victory Lap on repeat, the meaning the music has a brand new affect on me. Even Stacey Barthe’s undeniably beautiful voice has an eerie undertone on the opening track. I planned to do an album review upon its release, but kept putting it off until the content no longer mattered, simply because couldn’t find the words then either. Browsing through old mixed tapes that I once loved, I get all choked up and tears begin to well up in my chest due to the subtle, yet powerful affect of the lyrics. Only a few long, reflective days post-death, the words resonate on a completely different level now.

Out of the millions of people who die tragically every day, why did this one cut so deep? I don’t know the answer to any of this, but I also have realized that I’m not the only one. Now, more than ever, I’m inspired to let the love for the people in my life run a little deeper, embrace the love of my life a little tighter, stand stronger in what I believe in and what I’m about. Hopefully that’s the silver lining for anyone who was affected by this unexpected and rather untimely tragedy.

Rest in Power, Peace, and Love, King Ermias.

May your legacy reign on forever.