In the year since Nipsey was murdered, I’ve found myself regularly returning to his music. Not only cause I miss him, but also to motivate myself. While a lot of his music had him talking about his money like any other rapper, there’s another aspect of his music that motivates me deeper, that’s his connection to Los Angeles and hood of Crenshaw & Slauson.
I’m not from LA, but growing up in Seattle, I was adjacent to gang culture, while Nipsey was immersed in it. So I can’t relate to that fully, but I can understand it, and more importantly, I can speak to the connection of the neighborhood and the people one grows up in and has relationships with. It wasn’t just talk either. He opened The Marathon Clothing store on the same block he grew up on. He was well underway in opening a coworking space to promote STEM education called Vector90, as well. His words weren’t hollow.
In Blue Laces, he raps:
Cause where yo mama paid rent, that was yo gang, so when yo homeboy bled, that was yo pain
I gravitated toward that line shortly after his death, and it still rings true. For this piece, I went back to find the conversations I had with people about him. A lot of the people I reached out to were people I grew up with, who I shared these experiences with, and who also loved Nipsey for the same reason. All we had was each other. These are the people that seen me grow up, and help raised me. So when I see the same faces today, it’s all love. Only made sense that I returned to them in the wake of his death.
I’m still gonna listen to him to stay on track and be smart with my money, but that has taken a backseat to the sense of community that permeates his music. I’ve made efforts in the last few years to reconnect and stay involved in my community, but since Nipsey’s death, I’m been reminded of why I did that to begin with. With the state of the world where it is during the time of this writing with COVID-19, that ground-level, grassroots connection that Nipsey was always so proud of has become starkly more important than ever.
RIP Nipsey Hussle.