Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared. – Tupac Shakur

In California, murder in the day time has an otherworldly chill to it, and when the victim is someone beloved by millions, it almost seems like a cruel, cruel joke that life is playing on us.

Nipsey Hussle had made a quick run to his store, The Marathon Clothing, to help a friend who just got out of prison get freshened up with new clothes. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than that, so Nipsey didn’t feel the need to call his bodyguard. Besides, Nipsey was loved with overwhelming conviction by the neighborhood.

But shortly after his arrival, Nipsey would be fatally gunned down by one of his own. The initial reports said the attack was sparked by a heated argument that occurred between the two men. Nipsey would tell his soon-to-be killer to leave the premises.

The killer did. Then he came back shooting.

Video by @NimiHendrix

 

At 33-years old, Nipsey Hussle took his last breath in the hometown he loved. Encapsulated by the plaza he was reinvesting to for the sake of building a better tomorrow for his people. The dark and all too common irony of it all is the killer was a member of the Crips just as Nipsey was.

Last year, Jimmy Wopo and XXXTentacion were murdered in their hometowns as well. This is a grim trend that dates as far back as the late 80’s when Scott La Rock was killed in New York City. In fact, HipHopDX even published an article of 15 rappers who were killed in their hometown. In many cases, the killer is someone close to the slain. Someone who at the very least roams in the same social circle.

Nipsey Hussle

Photo Credit: Brandon Todd

This is why many rappers leave their beloved cities the moment they have the financial means to do so. Boosie was unapologetic about his choice to leave his hometown with no desire to return. He elaborated on this reality by detailing numerous contributing factors. The first was his past affiliations and conflicts that will never cease despite his new focus in life. The second was inevitable jealousy and envy that others will harbor for one’s success.

Most rappers die in their own city. It’s a fact. – Boosie

 

The suspected killer, Eric Holder, has a rumored history of mental health issues and has apparently sought treatment in the past. Looking at the limited info of his life, the basic points are similar to Nipsey’s.  Grew up in South Central Los Angeles, joined the Rollin 60’s Crips, and was an aspiring rapper.  The latter is where the two drastically diverged in their trajectory.

Nipsey Hussle
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Nipsey’s path led into a righteous one.  He was able to evolve from a sinner to a saint, a real one of flesh and bone.  He fed the hungry, provided jobs where jobs were scarce, and was creating unity between rival gangs and the local police. Nipsey had made it his life’s mission to cultivate hope and progress for the people in his city despite overwhelming obstacles.

Holder’s path remained troubled and hateful.

Since Nipsey’s passing, more information would be released on the interaction between him and Holder. According to Nipsey’s business partner, the two men apparently shook hands prior to the killing. Details are still muddy on the severity of the two men’s supposed argument. Though it seems that the interaction that occurred carried an unsettling premonition of doom.

Dostoyevsky once said that hell is the suffering of being unable to love. It’s no surprise that such love would elude someone like Holder. A man carrying the weight of his insecurities and hatred. A man who deep down wanted to be like Nipsey. And on that dark day, Sunday, March 31st, the two men touched flesh. The duality of the hood, both men staring into the eyes of what they could’ve been. They were connected in that fleeting moment, a bittersweet visage of the best and worst of what man is capable of. And for maybe the only time in Holder’s life, he had access to someone who could truly help him.

And he chose to kill him.

I thought I can cleanse the neighborhood of all these, you know, marauding gangs. But I was totally wrong. And eventually, we morphed into the monster we were addressing. – Stanley Tookie Williams III, Co-Founder of the Crips