Los Angeles’ Nipsey Hussle existed in many spaces.

He was a lauded emcee with his debut album ‘Victory Lap’ being nominated for a Grammy, he owned and ran the Marathon Store located on Slauson Ave. and Crenshaw Boulevard, and he helped to develop Vector90, a coworking space for underrepresented creators and entrepreneurs. While he was an owner and partner in several businesses, his biggest investments were in people, his community. Nipsey cultivated friendships in each of the spaces he inhabited. In a touching Instagram post, Buddy, a fellow Californian artist, with whom Nipsey collaborated often, called him “the Crip with book recommendations” and said Hussle would play documentaries in the studio to implore his colleagues to “learn some cuh.”

Nipsey stressed the importance of being a fixture in his neighborhood–a tenet he held until his last moments. As a South Central LA-native, no one would have faulted the 33-year-old multi-hyphenated businessman for moving to the safe, rolling hills of Los Angeles like some his fellow rap brethren. Yet, instead of abandoning his community he doubled down or in his case Doubled Up. In the countless videos celebrating Nip’s life, the truest constant was his devotion to the neighborhood he was from.

In the wake of his tragic death, even the notoriously confrontational LAPD sang Nipsey’s praises as a catalyst for change. Read that again— The Los Angeles’ Police Department celebrated the life of the heavily tattooed, Rollin’ 60s Crip hip-hop star —the ultimate testament to Nipsey’s unwavering character. On April 1st, the day after his death, Nipsey was set to meet with the LAPD on ways to curb gang activity in LA.

The stories and videos shared of Nipsey reflect the life of a man who strived to rebuild the community he so loved. In one, he can be found talking to a local can-collector then taking him to get a haircut at a Slauson Ave. barbershop. Another clip catches him puffing on a cigar in the front seat of a police car while cordially chatting with the officer who is taking pictures of him for the ‘gram. Nipsey loved South LA. He fostered new ideas, showed the importance of community empowerment and he continuously echoed those moments in his music.

We can continue to preach about his accolades and business savviness, but it simply boils down to the fact that Nip was just a real and genuine man. In the summers, he supported the charity hoops game held by James Harden with whom he attended middle school. His Marathon Store frequently hired felons, and he gave hugs instead of handshakes. He dispensed free game and planted resources in his community.

Nipsey spent his last days celebrating and empowering others as usual. He hit an Elite Eight game to support Brandone Francis of Texas Tech, the son of a dear friend. He supplied clothes from his Marathon Store to a freshly released friend before he was slain.

His goodwill shined differently held up against moguls in his position with the same fortune and privilege.

Nipsey’s contributions to the world expanded far beyond music and his hometown. His legacy should be honored in a multitude of ways. The night after Nipsey’s death, his close friend Russell Westbrook put up a historic triple-double with 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 20 assists—a feat that had only been done by Wilt Chamberlain, as an homage to his friend’s urban fraternity. His name and motto ‘TMC’ short for “The Marathon Continues” was seen etched on the kicks of some of the NBA’s brightest stars. Vigils celebrating his Marathon have popped up all around the world. California Rep. Karen Bass said she will honor Nipsey Hussle on the House floor recognizing his contributions to South LA as an official and permanent part of U.S. history.

Los Angeles and the world at large has lost one of the most dedicated human beings to grace this blue Earth, but that does not mean we should leave his legacy as it stands. We must continue to build on his legacy to make the world better just as Hussle was dedicated to doing. He envisioned a bridge between Silicon Valley and the inner cities. He wanted economic empowerment for all of us. He knew nothing worth having comes quick or easy. He truly embraced and embodied the idea of The Marathon. Though it may be arduous, there’s still a marathon to run for all of us.

“Grammy-nominated, in the sauna sheddin’ tears
All this money, power, fame and I can’t make you reappear
But I don’t wipe ’em though
We just embrace the only life we know
If it was me, I would tell you, ‘N—a, live your life and grow’
I’d tell you, ‘Finish what we started, reach them heights, you know?’”

“Racks in the Middle” Nipsey Hussle ft Roddy Ricch.
Photo: Twitter

Nipsey inspired in so many ways. Nipsey was the neighborhood hero for every neighborhood. He was Spider-Man in a Puma tracksuit. He was Batman in a Laker’s jersey. The Marathon must go on. It’s time to finish what we started and reach them heights, you know?

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