Compton Native Reflects on Hussle’s Death and Legacy: ‘Now is the time we take the baton and run for ourselves’

By Krysta Hawkins

Last February, I was in a deep depression in what should be one of the happiest times in my life. I was taking 22 units of classes: an extra load I had taken on to ensure I graduated in the Spring commencement. My life had become robotic, the same routine and I was lost. I felt like I was in a storm, and the weather was not going to let up anytime soon. I leaned on music to get me through peak times of my depression because it was therapeutic. Many days when I would try to sulk in darkness, I would search for light through lyrics, specifically from Nipsey's Hussle’s debut album Victory Lap, which was that light for me. I remember gravitating towards track number five, Dedication featuring Kendrick Lamar, more than any other song on the album. The beat starts off soft then there is a buildup, and Hussle comes in so strong with cadence.

Look my n***a this is dedication,

this is anti-hesitation,

this a real n***a celebration.”

Throughout the entire song, I felt like Hussle’s words were directed towards me. Something came over me, a spiritual encounter I was having, though I came to find out this is just how every fan of his felt. It was as if he had found the meaning of life and was trying to illustrate it for his people through every bar. He was giving us “free game.” Breaking the chains of poverty and oppression so that we as a community can do the same for ourselves. Little did we know Victory Lap would just serve as a painful metaphor for his final marathon.

Photograph by Krysta H.

Photograph by Krysta H.

It has been almost two weeks since the Los Angeles rapper who captivated us with his rags to riches story was shot in the middle of the empire he built on Crenshaw Blvd and Slauson Avenue. Thousands have gathered outside the Marathon Clothing Store to pay their respects. There has been nonstop love, music, and fellowship in the same parking lot where the real estate mogul took his last breath. They say time heals all wounds, but something tells me the city will never be the same after this loss. I kept asking myself “I wonder if this is how the world felt when 2pac died?”

Hussle was larger than life but still modest and humble. He was such an impactful figure of our generation, but what made him different was the how accessible he was to his community, which eventually led to his demise.

Photograph by Krysta H.

Photograph by Krysta H.

I have suffered through loss before, but this is the first time it has been for a person I have never met. I am constantly searching for answers and clarity about Nipsey’s death though I have yet to come up with anything. I look on social media just to see a feed of mourning and somberness. I know the stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, and eventually acceptance. Though, how would we ever come to accept this? A modern-day Robin Hood, though he was taking back what was rightfully his and investing into his neighborhood. I find peace in knowing his goal to make a difference has surpassed the streets of South Central. To only recognize Nipsey Hussle as a rapper would be an insult to his legacy, he was a prophet, and all the recognition he is receiving now was already due to him.

Nipsey Hussle’s Celebration of Life was held on Thursday, April 11 at the Staples Center where 21,000 people gathered to say their final goodbyes to the South Central native. I truly believe this event and his procession was a testament of the Asghedom family’s strength. I am forever grateful that they had empathy. They understood what their son, brother, partner, and father meant to the world, so they were kind enough to share that moment with us. I am forever grateful for this sacred moment they granted the world to also be a part of. It is ironic that it was them who lost a piece of their family, but they were encouraging and motivating us to continue his legacy. To stop now would be a disgrace to Nipsey’s hard work. Now I understand why Nipsey constantly reminded us that life is not a race, a race can end in a matter of minutes though a marathon goes on for hours. Hours is a metaphor for the years of our lives. Running a marathon takes a type of endurance that stays constant through all odds. I thank Nipsey for running for his people, now I feel is the time we take the baton and run for ourselves.  

                                        

Photograph by Krysta H.

Photograph by Krysta H.