Image: YouTube/Nipsey Hussle
I still can’t believe it. It’s been over a month, and my heart is still heavy for the family and loved ones of Ermias Asghedom, also known as Nipsey Hussle. I wasn’t a huge fan at the time of his passing, but I’m grateful to have heard Victory Lap through a friend who recommended it to me back in May of last year. I knew of him prior to that, but what made me extremely angry and guilty is how unaware I was on his entrepreneurship and community work in the Crenshaw and Slauson district in Los Angeles.
He was able to use his passion for music to build generational wealth, promote ownership, create opportunities for marginalized groups, and bring life to a place that has been rooted in poverty and violence. For many young people in today’s generation, he was their Malcolm X, he was their Tupac—someone who truly invested in bettering the lives of people of color while evolving day by day as an individual. Damn. I just hate when we lose yet another significant Black man, this one really hurts.
Although his physical presence is no longer present, his knowledge, businesses, music, and goals are still here, and it shall continue. With that said, I composed ten ways for you to continue Nipsey’s work—whether it’s supporting his actual businesses, or be inspired to start your own in your community. He didn’t work alone—he had an amazing team behind him, and I hope that The Marathon Clothing, Our Community, Vector90, and All Money In continues to strive. So, let’s jump in.
1. Build Your Platform or Business
Over the course of the last few years, I’ve seen many of the people I grew up with, starting their own businesses, brands, and platforms. I believe everyone on this earth should have access to opportunities where they can be their own leader, even if it’s a side hustle. Creating my blog is still my proudest moment because I don’t feel silenced, I can inspire people through this platform, and do my best to support others. Don’t be afraid to step out there and use your gifts, especially if you are a person of color. Research local seminars, conferences, or events in your area that will teach you how to run your business. There’s just so many outlets and resources out there, you just have to jump.
Here’s a great video on the evolution of The Marathon Clothing (Warning: Explicit Language):
2. Attend Real-Estate Workshops In Your Area
Ownership is incredibly important. Just a few months, my best friend and I went to a free first-time home owner’s class to learn about the process. I always think about the amount of land my ancestors probably owned or fought to own. It’s great to understand how the market works, how you can build wealth, and form a legacy that your grandchildren and their children can have once you’re gone. So, definitely see if any workshops are happening near you, and you don’t have to wait until you’re rich to access that information.
Very early on in his career, Nipsey stressed about the importance of ownership, and just before his passing, he collaborated with his business partner, David Gross, to start an investment fund called Our Opportunity, which would fight gentrification at inner cities across the country. All of his work really started in that parking lot, and he was building a movement that people in his community may not have been exposed to prior to him.
3. If You Make Music, Consider Owning Your Masters
Prince was one of the first people to speak up about the restrictions music artists have when they work with most major labels. Owning your master recordings in this age seems more common than ever because artists want that independence and power to increase their wealth and longevity in their careers. This may not be the option for everybody, but if you generate an audience on your own, promote yourself well, and continue to create great music, why not aim to own your masters?
4. Research and Read
A few days after Nipsey’s passing, I noticed a list of books that his fans and friends composed together. Most of them are self-help or inspirational books that he learned a lot from, and I actually own quite of them, like Sacred Woman by Queen Afua. Books are so essential to life because they are life changing and full of jewels that will help you think positively, cope with depression, understand politics, and make you more aware of your surroundings. If you have a library close to you, visit when you have a chance. You may stumble upon a word you needed your entire life.
“I’m focusing on the music, but I still got a cold library of books that I’ve either read or I plan on getting to.” – Nipsey Hussle
5. Surround Yourself with People Who Motivate You
Your space should be sacred, and the people who are in that space should align with your spirit and driven goals. For some people, it will take years to realize how their environments are not good influences on their lives, and some people are granted the perfect circle before they become adults. The goal is to be around family and friends who love, support, celebrate you, and help you get through the bad times.
6. Understand the Needs of Your Community
If you are in a neighborhood or city that needs specific strategies to make it better, reach out to your councilmen, find ways to contribute on your own, or simply support your local activists who are doing heavy load work for your community. Activism isn’t easy, and it has taken the lives of many over the past few years. Show up when you can, and be an advocate for the place you call home.
7. Pay It Forward, Become a Volunteer
I work at a creative writing non-profit, which allows me to welcome new writers, and provide resources to writers of color. Another role I have is an alumni council member at my former university, where I am a resource to current students who need help finding jobs, advice, or just need someone talk to about their semesters. I’m proud to have these responsibilities, and I believe I was brought into this earth to help people in some way. It’s very fulfilling, especially not having the expectation that my help will be reciprocated. It doesn’t have to be, being a volunteer or just someone who wants to clear pathways for others makes life more rewarding.
8. Find Your Passion
Just go find it. I know everyone on this earth has something to be passionate about. That one little hobby you love to do can create opportunities in years to come. Just don’t give up. Time will tell. Nipsey’s first love is music, but his legacy is far greater than any music project he has done, just by meeting new people and starting ventures. Beginning with his Proud To Pay campaign, that just shows his commitment to investing in himself.
9. Strive To Evolve, Never Lose Sight Where You Come From
Always strive to be a better person than you were yesterday. 10 years ago, I was suffering from depression, I didn’t see myself beautiful, and I was really lost. Today, I’m surprised I survived through that period and learning more and more about myself. Who I was at 14 years old, is definitely not the person I am at 24 years old. I watched countless interviews with Nipsey talking about distancing himself from some of his early music and realizing the mistakes he did along the way. Victory Lap sounds really different than Hussle In The House, and you can see how he made sure to stay authentic but evolve to a person who his children can look up to.
10. Maintain Your Integrity
From the beginning, Nipsey was always authentic and true to his community and loved ones. Most of his messages in his music are honorable and inspiring, especially in the song, “Bigger Than Life.” His first verse on that song was basically a blueprint and strategic plan for anyone in life, and he stayed that way throughout his career. Make sure that whatever you are doing, aligns with honesty and respect. Respect can get you very far in this world, and I truly admire Nipsey for the time we had him on earth.
Rest in power, Nipsey. Thank you for your work. Thank you for the music. Thank you for your blueprints.