Ermias Joseph Asghedom , known professionally as Nipsey Hussle , was an American rapper, activist, and entrepreneur. Emerging from the West Coast hip hop scene in the mid-2000s, Hussle independently released his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, to moderate local success, which led to him being signed to Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records.
Hussle became known for his numerous mixtapes, including his Bullets Ain't Got No Name series, The Marathon, The Marathon Continues, and Crenshaw, the last of which rapper Jay-Z bought 100 copies for $100 each. After much delay, his debut studio album Victory Lap was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and commercial success, and was nominated for the Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards in 2019. Two posthumous Grammy Awards for the songs 'Racks in the Middle' and 'Higher' were awarded to Hussle in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance categories, respectively, the next year at the 62nd Grammy Awards.
Also known for his entrepreneurship, Hussle inaugurated the Marathon Clothing store, which he founded along with partners Carless, the head of the agency, Karen Civil and his brother Samiel Asghedom in 2017, and started a co-working environment which he named 'Vector 90'. On March 31, 2019, Hussle was fatally shot outside his store Marathon Clothing in South Los Angeles. Eric Holder, a 29-year-old man who had confronted Hussle earlier in the day, was arrested and charged with murder on April 2, 2019.
Early life Ermias Joseph Asghedom was born on August 15, 1985, in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California, to Angelique Smith, an African-American woman, and Dawit Asghedom, an Eritrean immigrant. He was raised in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Los Angeles with his brother Samuel and his sister Samantha. Asghedom attended Alexander Hamilton High School in the nearby Castle Heights neighborhood, but dropped out before graduating. At the age of 14, Asghedom left home and joined the local Rollin 60's Neighborhood Crips, a sub-group of the larger Crips gang primarily based in his home neighborhood of Crenshaw. His stage name, a play on the name of comedian Nipsey Russell, originated as a nickname given to Asghedom by a childhood friend. At the age of 19, Asghedom's father took both him and his brother Samuel on a trip to Eritrea, East Africa for three months in 2004. Asghedom credited the trip with inspiring him to become a community activist with an 'entrepreneurial spirit'.
Music career 2008–2010: Bullets Ain't Got No Name series In December 2005, Hussle independently released his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, to moderate local success. His debut project helped to build a small regional fanbase on the west coast, and eventually led to Hussle being signed to Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records. In 2008, Hussle released the first two installments in his Bullets Ain't Got No Name series of mixtapes, which helped to bring Hussle's music to a larger audience.
Nipsey Hussle with fellow rapper Big Sean in 2009 Nipsey's profile continued to grow into 2009, when he collaborated with Drake on the song 'Killer', and also appeared, along with Snoop Dogg and Problem, on the song 'Upside Down', from Snoop Dogg's 2009 album Malice n Wonderland. He also released the third instalment in Bullets Ain't Got No Name, as well as his commercial debut single, 'Hussle in the House'. Despite the song, which samples Kris Kross' 1992 single Jump, being well received by critics, it failed to make any impact on the charts.
After Epic experienced financial issues in 2010, Nipsey opted not to renew his contract and left the label. Not long after going independent, Hussle appeared on the song 'We Are the World 25 for Haiti', and was featured by XXL Magazine as one of its 'Annual Freshman Top Ten', a selection of ten up-and-coming hip-hop artists to watch. XXL labeled him 'Most Determined' of his class, and LA Weekly called him the 'next big L.A. MC'. Hussle was expected to release his debut album, South Central State of Mind, in October 2010. Prior to release, the album was supported by the single 'Feelin' Myself' featuring Lloyd. While the production was set to be handled from J.R. Rotem, Scott Storch, Mr. Lee, Play-N-Skillz, Terrace Martin and 1500 or Nothin', the album was set to be featured with the guest appearances from Trey Songz, Jay Rock and Sean Kingston. Concurrently, he announced that he planned on releasing a mixtape with fellow rapper Jay Rock, titled Red and Blue Make Green. Following the release of a music video for 'Feelin' Myself', the album was set for a December 21, 2010, release; however, both of these projects were eventually postponed indefinitely.
2010–2013: Leaving Epic Records and The Marathon series
Hussle performing in 2013 After leaving Epic, Nipsey founded his own record label, All Money In. On December 21, 2010, he released his first All Money In Records mixtape, titled The Marathon, which featured guest appearances from Kokane and MGMT. On November 1, 2011, Hussle released a sequel titled The Marathon Continues, which featured L.A. rappers YG and Dom Kennedy. On April 17, 2012, Hussle released a collaborative album with fellow rapper Blanco, Raw. The album featured guest appearances from YG, Mistah FAB, Yukmouth, B-Legit, Kokane and Freeway.
In May 2012, Nipsey released a single titled Proud of That, marking his first collaboration with Florida rapper Rick Ross. Nipsey was subsequently featured on Ross' Maybach Music Group's song 'Fountain of Youth', which appears on the label's second album Self Made Vol. 2. The music video was released on October 1, 2012. Rumours began to circulate that Nipsey would sign with MMG, and in December 2012, Hussle himself hinted at signing, however, he also said that he was still looking for the right label.
Hussle said that he would be releasing his third and final installment of The Marathon mixtape series with TM3: Victory Lap in 2013, after it was pushed back from its initial December 2012 release date. He also announced that he was planning on releasing a joint mixtape with a fellow West Coast rapper and frequent collaborator YG. Hussle performed at the 2013 Paid Dues festival on March 30, 2013 in California. After deciding against signing to a major label, due to a lack of creative freedom, he choose to make Victory Lap his debut album.
2013–2019: Crenshaw and Victory Lap Main articles: Crenshaw and Victory Lap
Hussle performing in 2014 Beginning in 2013, he released various songs from his upcoming mixtape Crenshaw, including the 9th Wonder produced track 'Face the World', and a The Futuristics and 1500 or Nothin' produced track 'Blessings'. On August 6, 2013, Hussle announced that Victory Lap would be released as an album, rather than a mixtape. Prior to the release of Victory Lap, Hussle announced on September 16, 2013, that he would be releasing a new mixtape, Crenshaw , on October 8, 2013. On September 24, 2013, he revealed the track list for Crenshaw, which contained guest appearances from Rick Ross, Dom Kennedy, Slim Thug, James Fauntleroy II, Z-Ro, Skeme and Sade, among others. The production on the mixtape was handled by The Futuristics, 1500 or Nothin', 9th Wonder, Mike Free, Ralo and Jiggy Hendrix, among others. He also released the Crenshaw documentary that day in promotion of the mixtape. On October 3, 2013, he released another trailer for the mixtape, and attracted attention when he revealed 1,000 hard copies of the mixtape would be sold for $100 each. Jay Z personally bought 100 copies. He reportedly sold out all 1,000 copies in less than 24 hours, effectively making $100,000.
Hussle in a studio in 2018 Upon the release of Crenshaw, Hussle said that Victory Lap would be released in 2014. On November 20, 2013, Hussle confirmed that Victory Lap would feature production from Ralo, 1500 or Nothin', The Futuristiks and DJ Mustard. He later confirmed more producers, including Don Cannon and DJ Khalil on the album. After the year went by with no new releases, Hussle released a new mixtape, Mailbox Money on New Year's Eve 2014, again releasing 1000 hard copies for $100 each.
Hussle made a number of guest appearances throughout 2015 and 2016, working with Jadakiss, Trae Tha Truth and YG. In 2016, he released another mixtape, titled Famous Lies and Unpopular Truth. He commented on the 2016 US presidential election by releasing the single 'FDT' with YG; the song was written about Hussle's positive experiences with Mexican immigrants in the United States, whom Trump had criticized.
After numerous delays, Hussle's debut studio album, Victory Lap, was released on February 16, 2018, debuting at number 4 on the Billboard 200, selling 53,000 album equivalent units in its first week. The album was met with universal acclaim from critics, and numerous songs entered the Billboard Hot 100, including 'Double Up', 'Last Time I Checc'd' and 'Dedication', marking Hussle's debut on the chart as a lead artist. Victory Lap was also nominated for a Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019, but lost out to Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy. Over 1 year after its release, the album reached a new peak of number 2 on the Billboard 200 in April 2019 after Hussle's murder on March 31. His single 'Racks in the Middle' featuring Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy also reached a new peak of number 44 on the Hot 100, following his death.
Business ventures Hussle's nickname came from his entrepreneurial spirit. He shined shoes for $2.50 to pay for school clothes at age 11 with a goal of a hundred shoes a day. Hussle sold his mixtapes out of a car trunk at a neighborhood strip mall at the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. After leaving Epic Records, he founded his own record label. Hussle experimented with unorthodox sales strategies by selling expensive copies of certain mixtapes even while the songs were distributed for free.
Hussle's Marathon branding inspired Steve Carless in 2013 when he founded Marathon Agency with business partners Karen Civil and Jorge Peniche. They designed the talent-based brand to attract a diverse set of clients in all stages of their careers. In October 2016, Carless, the head of the agency, told Billboard that Hussle had invested 'like over six figures' in the Marathon Agency and described him as 'kind of like our silent partner.'
Hussle opened the Marathon Clothing store on June 17, 2017, which he founded along with partners Carless, Civil, and his brother Samiel Asghedom. Opening the store at this intersection in the Crenshaw commercial district was important to him because he wanted to invest and provide opportunities in his neighborhood of Hyde Park. The store is billed as a 'smart store,' which bridges the gap between culture and technology by giving customers access to exclusive music and other content created by rappers through an app created by software engineer Iddris Sandu. The year before his death, Hussle had bought the small shopping center where his store was located, after partnering with the real estate investor David Gross.
All Money In Hussle created the record label All Money In after leaving Epic Records. He released his first major project, The Marathon, through the new label on December 21, 2010. He released subsequent projects under his label, including The Marathon Continues , Crenshaw , and Mailbox Money . He also signed other artists, including J Stone, Pacman Da Gunman, BH, Cobby Supreme, Cuzzy Capone and Killa Twan.
Releases The Marathon - Nipsey Hussle The Marathon Continues - Nipsey Hussle Crenshaw - Nipsey Hussle Mailbox Money - Nipsey Hussle 25/8 No Breaks - J Stone Boyz N Tha Hood - BH Slauson Boy 2 - Nipsey Hussle Neighborhood Watch - J Stone Victory Lap - Nipsey Hussle 6 Days - J Stone No Guts No Glory - Pacman Da Gunman The Definition of Loyalty - J Stone 60TH ST - Pacman Da Gunman Ground Zero - J Stone & Pacman Da Gunman Esta Loca Vida Mia - Pacman Da Gunman The Definition of Pain - J Stone Acting career In 2007, Hussle played a small role in Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's semi-autobiographical film I Tried, which was directed by Rich Newey. In 2010, he starred in the film Caged Animal, alongside Ving Rhames, Gillie Da Kid and Robert Patrick. In 2015, Hussle was featured in a cameo 'The Sexy Getting Ready Song' in the pilot episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, rapping two bars.
Community activism Hussle wanted to focus on 'giving solutions and inspiration' to young black men like him. He denounced gun violence through his music, influence and community work. He spoke openly about his experiences with gang culture.
He funded improvements to neighborhood schools and spent time with students, also participating on panels about growing up in the area and the influence of gang culture. Hussle started a co-working environment which he named Vector 90. From his own experience, he believed that the Crenshaw area as being underserved and that young people would benefit from communal workspaces. He wanted youths to be able to take classes in science, technology and mathematics at the center. Hussle was also intimately involved in the planning and advisory stages of the Destination Crenshaw project that will showcase the history and culture of African Americans in his neighborhood. In March 2019, Hussle had contacted officials from the LAPD to arrange a meeting with him and Roc Nation about what they could do to help prevent gang violence in South Los Angeles. The meeting had been scheduled to take place on April 1.
Hussle was murdered on March 31. According to Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, department officials will meet with Hussle's representatives at a future date on these issues, to continue the activist's work in his honor.
Personal life Hussle and actress Lauren London began dating in 2013. They had a son together born in 2016. London has a child from a previous relationship with fellow rapper Lil Wayne, while Hussle had a daughter from a previous relationship. He remained very involved in South Los Angeles with his businesses, charitable activities, and the homes of family and friends. The locations for a magazine shoot were in the neighborhood.
Death On March 31, 2019, Hussle was shot at least 10 times in the parking lot of his store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles at about 3:19 p.m. Gunshot wounds included a shot to his right chest, a shot that entered into his abdomen near his navel and severed his spine, a gunshot wound to the right side of his back that penetrated into his chest and struck his lung, and a gunshot wound to 'the posterior top' of his scalp. Two others were wounded in the shooting. All three victims were transported to a hospital, where Hussle was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. He was 33 years old. Rapper GBO Gaston claimed to have killed Nipsey Hussle on an Instagram post before the suspected perpetrator was arrested. Police have identified 29-year-old Eric Ronald Holder Jr. as the suspect.
Investigators believe Eric Holder, the suspect, was known to the rapper and that the shooting was possibly motivated by a personal matter. On April 2, 2019, Holder was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department and was being held in solitary confinement. On May 9, a grand jury indicted Holder on one count of murder, two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a firearm, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. On February 9, 2020, Judge Robert Perry said he hoped to begin the murder trial by early April.
Hussle is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Southern California. His brother, Samiel Asghedom, was appointed the permanent administrator of Hussle's estate.
Memorial in front of Marathon Clothing, where Hussle was shot dead Upon hearing the news of his death, numerous celebrities offered their condolences on social media. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also offered his condolences to Hussle's family.
Hussle's memorial service was held on April 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with tickets provided free of charge.
A letter from former president Barack Obama praised the rapper for his work in the community:
While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential.
The 25.5-mile funeral procession wound through the streets of South L.A. including Watts, where he spent some of his formative years. Mourners gathered at the Watts Towers along the route. The crowds lining the streets demonstrated the impact he had on this community.
Hussle's longtime friend and collaborator YG dedicated his performance at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to the memory of Nipsey Hussle.
Legacy A petition was started to rename the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard near Hussle's store Marathon Clothing to 'Nipsey Hussle Square'. On the day of his funeral, the council announced it was set to be renamed Ermias 'Nipsey Hussle' Asghedom Square to honor him and his contributions to the neighborhood.
Mural of Nipsey Hussle painted in Toronto, Canada There was a strong artistic response to Nipsey Hussle's death. Within a few months, over 50 murals dedicated to the rapper were painted in the City of Los Angeles. One mural is in an alley near the strip mall where he was killed. Hussle's store has remained closed since his death.
Inspired by the books that Hussle had mentioned in interviews, songs and motivational messages, local chapters of The Marathon Book Club have formed. The list includes self-help bestsellers, cult classics and little-known books by black authors. Michelle Obama included 'Hussle and Motivate' on her 2020 workout playlist.
At the 2020 Grammy Awards, DJ Khaled, Kirk Franklin, John Legend, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch and YG gave tribute to Hussle in honor of his legacy.
Puma released the Marathon Clothing collection in September 2019 with 100% of net proceeds to the Neighborhood "Nip' Foundation. The AMB store opened in September 2019 on Crenshaw Boulevard. This is another clothing company founded by Hussle with Cobby Supreme who was one of his best friends and an artist.
The season 2 premiere of the CW series All American included a candlelight vigil at Hyde Park with a eulogy by the character Flip Williams . Tattoo artist Keenan Chapman painted a mural just for the episode. The series included 'Grinding All My Life' in its pilot, and series star Daniel Ezra was a fan. Characters from the series wore clothes from the Marathon store. Hussle had planned to appear in the season 1 finale but had 'scheduling conflicts'.
On March 6, 2020, thrash metal band Body Count released their seventh studio album titled Carnivore. The album features a song titled 'When I'm Gone', which was written for Nipsey Hussle. by the band's singer and fellow Los Angeles rapper Ice-T. The song features a spoken introductory part in which Ice-T says of Hussle, 'the outcry of love and support after his death was incredible, but it inspired me to write this song.' The song also features guest vocalist Amy Lee from the band Evanescence who is also credited by Ice-T as having co-written the song.
A documentary on Nipsey Hussle is in development at Netflix, and is set to be co-produced and directed by Ava DuVernay.
Discography: Main article: Nipsey Hussle discography, The Marathon , The Marathon Continues , Crenshaw , Mailbox Money , Victory Lap