Though Nipsey Hussle was shot to death outside a Los Angeles clothing store three years ago, the pain of his death remains fresh for those who revered the much-loved rapper and community activist.
Several paid tribute to Hussle’s positive influence during a murder trial that ended Wednesday with a conviction for his murder. Some shed tears. One of his closest friends laments that he cannot protect Hussle. A witness struggles with ongoing nightmares as if Hussle’s fatal shooting happened yesterday. Some in the hip-hop community still look to his rap lyrics for teachable moments.
Like Hussle’s popular catchphrase “The marathon goes on,” the memory of his shocking legacy is still fresh in the minds of many.
“I feel like we will never forget the work he did and everything he did for the community,” Slim Jxmmi of the rap group Rae Sremmurd said in a recent interview. “That is why he is such an important figure in our community. Nipsey was tight. He was tough.
Rapper Rick Ross said that Hussle is admired “more than ever” these days for his progressive mindset as a businessman and for teaching through his thought-provoking rap lyrics.
“He’s a legend, poet,” said Ross, who has a tattoo of Hussle’s face on his leg. “I loved him as a master of ceremonies when I met him over a decade ago. I am happy to see that the marathon is still going on.”
Hussle, whose birth name was Ermias Asghedom, was shot to death at the age of 33 on March 31, 2019, in the parking lot outside his store, The Marathon.
Eric R. Holder Jr. was found guilty Wednesday of the first-degree murder of the Grammy winner, who was on his way to revitalizing a South Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up and was eventually shot to death. Hussle and Holder have known each other for years and grew up as members of the same gang, the Rollin’ 60s.
Holder was also convicted of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm. He will be sentenced on September 15.
The verdict could have ended a three-year legal saga, but the nearly four-week trial resurfaced old emotions and admiration for Hussle.
“It shook me up,” Christian Johnson said during his emotional testimony. He was inside a hamburger restaurant near Hussle’s clothing store during the shooting. In security footage shown in court, Johnson can be seen ducking under a red table after hearing gunshots.
As Johnson stood up and looked out into the parking lot, he saw Hussle’s body on the ground.
“I dream about it every night,” said Johnson, who broke down in tears. He saw himself as a huge fan of Hussle’s work and had thought about approaching him for a photo before the shooting. “I walked out and saw Nipsey lying there. That could have been me.
Former gang member Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, who worked at The Marathon, said Hussle’s death still feels raw. He has some guilt for the rapper who was like a “little brother” to him.
“I’m sorry I walked away from your side,” said Douglas, who overheard the initial conversation between Hussle and Holder. He was inside the clothing store when he heard the shots.
“I never should have walked away from his side,” he continued. “I did not see it coming. No way, no way.”
In honor of Hussle, Douglas had a mural of the rapper painted outside his restaurant in Los Angeles. Countless other Hussle murals have appeared along busy highways, on the sides of buildings, and inside a school basketball court in the city.
Hussle, whose nickname is a play on a famous 1970s comedian, received the nickname for his work ethic while releasing CDs. He spent years gaining a devoted following through mixtapes and underground releases. He broke through with his first major-label album and ultimately won two posthumous Grammy Awards in 2020.
Throughout Los Angeles, Hussle was a beloved figure for his philanthropic work that went far beyond the usual celebrity spirit of “giving back.” He purchased the mall where The Marathon is located and planned to redevelop it into a mixed-use retail and residential complex.
The plan was part of Hussle’s broader ambitions to remake the neighborhood where he grew up and try to break the cycle of gang life that attracted him when he was younger. The Los Angeles City Council is expected to rename the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue “Nipsey Hussle Square.”
After Hussle’s death, an unexpected ceasefire developed between some rival gang members. In May, his family celebrated the grand opening of The Marathon Collective, a cannabis dispensary in Canoga Park, California.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney John McKinney showed a photo of a shrine dedicated to Hussle outside his clothing store. Among the candles and other tributes was a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap, which gang expert Robert Freeman says was worn by the Black P Stones, a Blood-affiliated gang who were fierce rivals to Hussle’s Rollin’ 60s Crips. .
“He was loved by the Bloods and the Crips,” Freeman said.
McKinney said after the verdict that Hussle will never be forgotten.
“As a community, we move forward from this, we move forward in the tradition of the Marathon,” he said. “We continue the tradition that young people who are in a situation where Nipsey may have been 15 years ago can look to his life as an example of how they can get out of that situation and get to a place where dreams are made. .”
Associated Press writers Andrew Dalton and Marcela Isaza contributed to this report.