Notes to Nipsey: The Marathon Continues

By Danny Dunson

The world seemed to stop when Grammy nominated artist Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed outside of his Marathon Store in South LA on Mar. 31. The days proceeding eschewed a collective outcry among the communities that Hussle loved, encouraged, influenced and supported. Hussle was inspirational, repeatedly stressing that success is a means to make things better for those less fortunate.

As a voice of the people constantly advocating for the importance of generational wealth, Hussle made music for those struggling to make ends meet. He became a local hero as he leveraged his fame and fortune earned from making music by pouring resources back into the neighborhood. As an avid supporter of art and culture, Hussle invested in Destination Crenshaw, a mile-long stretch of rotating and permanent art installations, and helped renovate World of Wheels, the old Mid-City roller rink that was one of the establishments responsible for birthing West Coast hip-hop.

Countless visual artists have responded to the tragic loss of Nipsey Hussle with an outpouring of original images that far surpass conventional fan art. Hussle’s image is appearing as murals in urban neighborhoods, fresh haircuts, tattoos, as well as traditional paintings on canvas. Many artists have depended on the viral nature of social media to deploy their work, free from the confines of traditional gallery and museum spaces. Countless works of art honoring, celebrating, and deifying the slain community activist have been ubiquitously appearing on Instagram. Remarkably, no two images are alike.

A multitude of stories appeared in Hussle’s eyes and artists have captured the entrepreneur’s aggressive hustle, as well as his ambition, humility, sensitivity, his hopes, his ferocity, and his fears. The artistic response to Hussle’s death attempts to immortalize the life of 33 years old, born Ermias Asghedom, who was a son, a father, a brother, a partner, a rapper, a business owner, a philanthropist, and an activist. While flooding the internet with heartfelt imagery, artists have created a cultural phenomenon of memorialization.

Mourners have turned to the soothing power of art as they grapple with the loss of a young leader. We have selected a few images that honor Hussle, keeping the words of his mother Angelique Smith in our hearts…. “He’s there with you now and he’s here with me now.”

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