• The Rap Hippies

Nipsey Hussle and The Battle Against Gentrification

Nipsey Hussle has a story that mirrors a movie script equipped with all the toppings that would make it a box office smash. Not only is his life cinema worthy with tales of shootouts and police raids, but it teaches a valuable lesson that young Black children all across the world need to learn, entrepreneurship. He is a beacon of hope for every kid from every ghetto.

Nipsey is an exceptional example of patience and persistence. He was born and raised on the streets of Crenshaw in South Los Angeles, California, where gangbangin' culture is prominent.

Most boys from there are typically looking for companionship amongst their peers, and with their proximity to these gangs, it is natural for them to join these street fraternities. Nipsey never runs nor hides from his gang affiliation, the Rollin’ 60s Crips, or the streets he grew up on, Crenshaw and Slauson Ave. This street corner is the same block that he would hustle his mixtapes on, selling copies out of his trunk. Nipsey along with his brother would eventually open their first retail shop, Slauson Tees, on that same street corner. The police ended up raiding the store and arrested Nipsey’s brother, which led to them losing the ownership of the store. A minor setback for a major comeback.

With his brother being incarcerated Nipsey dug down deeper and proceeded to push his music even harder. Eventually, once his brother was released, Nipsey accumulated enough money along with his brother’s stash to buy a different store two doors down from their previous one. It was beginning to look up, but the police would continue to raid the store and halt their progress. Nipsey and his brother stayed committed to their dream eventually opening their flagship store, The Marathon Clothing, a name mirroring their dedication to the long game. Nipsey champions the vital concept of reinvesting back into the community, mostly hiring people within his hood, while trying to bring back the value in his area.

He's potentially the best role model the rap game has to offer whether you see yourself having a career in music or becoming a bonafide business mogul. One of Nipsey’s biggest waves that smacked the shores of hip-hop like a category five hurricane was him selling a mixtape, a collection of songs typically given out for free, Crenshaw for 100$. During an interview with Sway in 2012, he spoke of how he originally came up with the idea from a book titled Contagious and how he only intended for people to talk about it and talk about it they did. The masses were appalled at the fact that a rapper was bold enough to sell a mixtape for 100$, but Jay-Z saw the vision. Jay-Z would buy 100 of these mixtapes spending 10,000$ on music that he could’ve got for free. Nipsey wasn’t done there following it up with a 1000$ album called Mailbox Money.

After both of these releases, Nipsey’s buzz was out of control, and he caught the seductive eye of major labels as they tried to court him into signing a contract. Seeing the way he conducted his business it was more than evident that these labels would attempt to make a deal with Nipsey.

But he refused to take their hand and dance because of his belief in ownership. Ownership is one of the most valuable lessons to be learned from him. Instead of playing the short game and ink paperwork with a major, that could've seen him losing the rights to his music, he stayed independent. His push to remain independent for most of his career saw that he owned 100% of his masters, leading him to receive over six-figures in royalty payments. Nipsey stayed patient until the perfect opportunity for him arose to agree to a partnership with Atlantic Records, where he shares everything 50/50. After accepting this partnership, he released his long-awaited Grammy-nominated album, Victory Lap.

This newly jointed venture with Atlantic was a smart and calculated business decision and as his previous moves show, he’s chock-full of them. He insists on executing plans that look to set him up to be another billionaire hip-hop artist with a diverse portfolio. He invested into cryptocurrency, a new form of money that seems like the future, and added innovative features to his retail shop, implementing price tags when scanned gives the customers access to exclusive material from Nipsey.

These innovations made The Marathon Clothing, the first smart store of its kind in the world. His most recent move may be the pinnacle of his determination, buying the entire strip mall where it all began. From selling mixtapes, losing Slauson Tees, to now planning to tear down the current buildings, and erecting a six-story residential complex with his Marathon shop being at the forefront; he stayed firm and achieved his goals.

Nipsey is striving to be a positive role model in his community altering the stigma that surrounds young Black men from the hood. He is a shining example of how to reinvest in your own, giving back to the same people who supported him in his rise. Instead of moving away and disappearing when he got money, he came back. Instead of complaining about how the value of his streets has deteriorated or allowing foreign investors to push out his people with prices hikes, he came back. Investing your funds into the community is the best way to battle gentrification. As a collective we have to be ones putting money back into our neighborhoods, allowing it to circulate and stay within our community.