Barack Obama wrote a moving tribute to Nipsey Hussle that was read at his funeral
On Thursday, a funeral service was held for Ermias Joseph Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle, a Grammy-nominated rapper, entrepreneur and community activist. The 33-year-old was shot and killed in front of his own store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles on March 31. After his death was announced, some of music's biggest stars, including Drake, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams, mourned him on on social media.
However, Hussle's impact went beyond music. In LA, he was regarded as a hometown hero, a rap star who used his money and fame to revitalize his community. In addition to Marathon Clothing, he created Vector 90, a workspace, cultural hub and incubator in the Crenshaw district.
“In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,'” Hussle said. "And that’s cool but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ I think that with me being influential as an artist and young and coming from the inner city, it makes sense for me to be one of the people that’s waving that flag."
At the Staples Center, more than 20,000 people gathered to pay their respects to Hussle, including some famous figures. Snoop Dogg spoke in his honor, Stevie Wonder performed Rocket Love and Eric Clapton's Tears of Heaven, and Hussle's friend Karen Civil read a moving tribute written by former president Barack Obama. In the letter, Obama praised the Crenshaw MC for overcoming adversity to make a positive impact on his community.
"I've never met Nipsey, but I've heard his music through my daughters," Obama wrote. "After his passing, I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work. While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going."
"His choice to invest in that community rather than to ignore it," Obama continued. "To build a skills training center, a coworking space in Crenshaw to lift up the Eritrean-American community -- he set an example for young people to follow and is a legacy worthy of celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it."
While Asghedom is gone, his music and legacy will not be forgotten. On Wednesday, Los Angeles city council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson announced that the intersection of Crenshaw and Slauson will be renamed "Ermias 'Nipsey Hussle' Asghedom Square."
"Nipsey's genuine nature allowed him to be a light to everyone he interacted with from family, friends, fans, and his larger community," Harris-Dawson said in a statement. "As a father, brother, and son, Nipsey was a rock helping to build an empire that will continue through generations. Nipsey will always be remembered for delivering a pure, authentic Los Angeles sound, his numerous philanthropic efforts, his innovative, community-focused business mindset, and his humble heart. "
Police apprehended the 29-year-old man suspected of killing Hussle, and said their dispute was not gang related.