The name Nipsey Hussle is infamous in hip-hop circles as one of the most influential rappers on the West Coast in the 2010s, starting life on the streets of Crenshaw before rocketing to superstardom.
Nipsey Hussle’s life story was anything but normal. His real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom, and he was born on August 15, 1985, in Los Angeles, California, in a place called Crenshaw, which wasn’t great! Drug dealing and police brutality shaped much of his childhood, which went into shaping his music.
Hussle’s mother, Angelique Smith, was African-American, and his father, Dawit Asghedom, was an immigrant from Eritrea, a small African country fighting for its independence from Ethiopia.
When he was still in his teens, Hussle went to the country with his dad and spent three months there. The trip changed his perspective on the world because he saw the poverty and struggle in his ancestral homeland.
It was an influential time for the young man. He learned a lot about his family’s past and then used that in his music.
Nipsey released his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, in the mid-2000s. It gained critical acclaim and some recognition in the underground music and rap scene. Soon after that, he signed a deal with Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records and began working on his debut album.
Of course, he didn’t get on too well with his studio and record label. The two eventually parted ways and the rapper set up his own studio called All Money In, though he continued making his famous mixtapes. The ones that had the biggest impact were The Marathon, The Marathon Continues, and Bullets Ain’t Got No Name.
Later, Hussle started experimenting with a new marketing strategy called “Proud 2 Pay,” where he charged high prices for his music to his loyal followers. Sometimes he sold individual albums for over $100. Jay-Z bought multiple copies of his work at a high price at one point, which changed Nipsey’s career tremendously.
As the years went by, Nipsey worked with some other big names in the music business, including DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, and Drake.
Victory Lap was his debut album which came out in 2018, many years after he started making music. Critics loved it and it went on to achieve significant commercial success, entering the Billboard 200 chart at number four.
Unfortunately, Hussle was fatally shot outside his store, Marathon Clothing, and died on March 31, 2019. The Grammy Awards honored him after his passing for the songs “Racks in the Middle” and “Higher” in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance categories respectively in 2020.
Hussle wasn’t just a rapper. He also enjoyed entrepreneurship and spent much of his life pushing for justice and empowerment. While he was taken from the world at too young an age, his legacy still lives on in the hearts of his fans.