Stephanie Daniels, Features Editor

Sunday, March 31, 3:55 p.m. was the moment when most of us who knew and loved 33-year-old rapper, Nipsey Hussle, stopped to take in a breath that we’re still struggling to release. Hussle’s murder touched so many, resulting in the aching of hearts, the rise in the reach of his message, and the uniting of fans across the world. The passing of this prolific figure had a weight to it that many expressed not experiencing since Tupac and Biggie passed, especially those who were from the black community.

Hussle not only produced music and built relationships with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Drake and The Game, but also rubbed shoulders with some of the most successful influencers such as P. Diddy, Jay-Z and notable entrepreneur and businessman Gary Vaynerchuk. The fact that he was able to be amongst the types of people we would all dream to be alongside made his journey not only impressive, but inspiring.

He grew up in a dangerous and impoverished area in South Central, Los Angeles. in the Crenshaw District. Growing up in this area exposed him to the type of environment that many don’t make it out of. He saw the need within the community in which he was a part of and made it his duty to give back and make a difference there. What makes Hussle so prolific in his approach was his dedication to his people both inside and outside of his neighborhood.  He was no stranger to the gang violence within his neighborhood, and the conditions that attributed to both the violence and poverty. As a result, he created a platform of change.

Hussle’s story possessed the power to touch so many within his community because of the strides he made. You have a black man that built himself from nothing.  A recent reflection on social media by rapper The Game described a time when he saw Nipsey Hussle while driving through Crenshaw, and Hussle handed him his CD to listen to, jokingly saying “don’t frisbee my shit.” That later turned into him going on tour with Game.  It was that type of “hustle” that inspired those who looked up to him.

You could say so many others before him did the same thing, and had the same story, but what made Nipsey such an influence on his people was the fact that he wanted us all to be a part of “The Marathon.” Often making so many of us look at him in a way that proved we could do the same thing if we just stayed dedicated and true to ourselves. He never left his people behind; we were never an afterthought.

Hussle had many endeavors. He opened a shop, the Marathon Clothing Store, right in the middle of his community located on Slauson, a street within Hyde Park in Los Angeles. There he employed many people within his community. In February, along with business partner David Gross, he purchased the whole plaza in which his store sat.  He also knew that health was an important area of disparity and miseducation within the black community. He invested in health and made plans to educate his people further after spending time with Dr. Sebi, a respected healer within the black community. He had planned on creating a documentary of Dr. Sebi and his teachings. Even further than that, he was making strides to blur the lines between tech and rap.

As for Hussle’s community, they outpoured their grievances with his passing. Many people stepped forward to share experiences in which he brought them along and used his resources to help them. Whether that be creating jobs for them, nurturing and encouraging the youth, or just talking to us all through his interviews.

He taught us to stay true to ourselves. He taught us to push the envelope, selling 1,000 of his Victory Lap mixtapes for $100 a copy through his campaign called Proud2Pay. He taught us to also return to your people, to give back to your neighborhood. He taught us to stay sharp, to keep pressing forward, even when staring in the face of adversity. The fact that he was once a young black boy that grew up in an impoverished area that not only built himself and his brand from scratch but returned to take his people with him is beyond admirable.

Hussle had an interview claiming not to be smarter than anyone else, but that he just never quit. That undying dedication and seeing him blossom as the young black king that he was will touch us within the black community in ways that will be everlasting. It is so hard to see such an influence of change, someone who really walked the walk, gone way too soon.

If you support his vision, keep his legacy going. Pour into your communities, build up what is broken. Do it on your own terms, keep it within the community and give back. Push yourself toward your dreams, don’t ever quit. Keep the positivity and sharing of information going.

In the words of Nipsey Hussle from his song “Double Up” from his Victory Lap album, “…never let a hard time humble us.” Keep pressing forward.

You can go to his store’s website to support further and keep the vision alive: