Long Live Nip: Processing His Murder
I didn't want to write this. I didn't want to write about another dead black man. I didn't want to believe the news that popped up on my timeline late Sunday evening. Nipsy Hussle shot six times in front of his clothing store. I along with all of the hip-hop community begged to the high heavens that he would be okay. Unfortunately , the story was already inked. NBC News started reporting he was dead and then everything ceased to exist. I was nauseous. How could they take Nip? A man that was indeed for his people, doing the same message he preached. Not only buying his block back but trying to make real change, dying before a meeting with LAPD to discuss ways to lessen gun violence in his hood. It didn't seem real.
I was too young to feel what came from the aftermath of both Tupac's and Biggie's death. I assume it was similar to how I now was feeling. I never understood people's reaction to a celebrity's death. People die every day, so what makes this famous person unique, I would ask. It took Nipsey's passing for me to truly empathize with those who are affected by these type of losses. Having someone torn away from the world through acts of violence hits differently when that person was a beacon for hope. I trusted every word Nipsey preached, as he spread the gospel of Black ownership. He traveled the entire globe, only to come back to the streets that raised him and invest into a part of town no one else valued. It just seems ironic that he would be slain in front of the same storefront he worked so hard to buy. It's like all of his effort to change the perception of his hometown was destroyed in a flash.
Since his murder, it has been a wild ride. I never even met the men, and I've been in a funk since finding out. I can only imagine what his wife, brother, father, and children are going through. It's been a few days, and I still haven't been able fully to comprehend the situation. I keep saying "I can't believe he's gone." Watching all of this unfold on Twitter surprised me. It made me thoughtfully consider aspects of our society. For instance, why is our culture desensitized to such an extent that people can easily share a man's lifeless body onto the timeline? Image as someone close to Nip finding out about the news through the video of his unresponsive corpse. I ended up deleting the app off my phone for a day in hopes of grasping somewhat of an understanding of what transpired without the commentary from Twitter. That noise didn't stop at just untasteful videos but conspirators non-conspirators to old fans vs. new fans. I mean the man wasn't dead for 24 hours, and people felt the need to question whether people were a fan of the man before his death. How can you think that you have such a monopoly over his fandom that you can dictate when others start to support him?
To address the conspiracies of his death in connection with Dr. Sebi's documentary he was producing, this may be a bit of a stretch. Black people have been murder by the hands of police for much less, a mistaken wallet here and a toy gun there. Not to mention the effort they have taken against Black activist in the past with the Black Panther Party to the present with the recently killed Black activist from Atlanta, Oscar Cain, who died as a result of yet another police shooting. Black people don't need any particular reason to be a victim of the State. By contributing Nipsey's death to a documentary, we are in a way minimizing his impact on his community. This man was laying out the blueprint to battle genefriction but was assassinated for a documentary?
The questions didn't stop there. How could a man who has done so much for his neighborhood be killed on the same block? Nipsey tried to break the cycle of getting money and leaving your street well of in the distance never to be seen again. He was different. Coming from, a lack of better terms, the hood, an area where violence maybe rampant and the poverty rate is high all you want to do is get money and get away from it. Even if you don't want to leave, your circumstances make you have to go. People in these areas are hurting, and when you're hurting you feel more comfortable when everybody around you is in pain. We are so accustomed to the bottom that when someone rises to the top, it is as if we have fallen even more. People in fear of being left at the bottom take from those at the top. Something has to give. We are afraid to live in our communities. Nipsey isn't the first, nor the last victim lost to gun violence. And if he wasn't safe in his neighborhood, are any of us?
I wish I had the answers. I wish I knew where to go from here. Its as if we lost our messiah. I pray that his death helps more than harms. Not to be discouraged by this, but use it as motivation. There are things in life, unfortunately, we can't control. We have the power to make a change for future generations to come. This was Nipsey's mission, to make a better place for his kids' kids. He was a real inspiration, but regrettably, this is a story too often repeated in our neighborhood, yet another young black man shot to death. We can't let this moment pass us by; whether it be through community activism, getting an LLC, investing into the hood, or telling your people you love them, we have to continue to spread his message.
*Note, I wrote this before a lot more information was released following his death. The overwhelming support that the world has been pouring out for Nipsey gives me hope. In the days since his passing The Nation of Islam came out on Crenshaw and Slauson and called for the unity of all Black people. He has even united rival Crip gang sets, 8trey and Rolling 60's, that have been beefin' for over forty years resulting in thousands of deaths and incarcerations of Black men. Just as The Nation did, the gangs came together in solidarity to march and called for the war between them to stop, all in honor of their slain brother. The love didn't end on the streets of Crenshaw either, sports analysts from Stephen A. Smith to Skip Bayless all stopped their broadcast shows to give condolences. Who could have foreseen a Crip gang member being laid to rest at the Staples Center? His energy is real. His spirit is covering us and transforming us. This has been a surreal experience of the community rallying together to acknowledge Nipsey's great work, and he'd be smiling at how his efforts are working.
Thankfully Nipsey owned 100% of his masters if you would like to support his family, stream or purchase his music. Watch some of his interviews too, some of the most significant words ever spoken.