"Hip-Hop’s State of Affairs: The Nipsey Hussle Effect"
By Steven X
In Hip-Hop’s history there have been many moments of tragedy that have made us question the validity of how much we need to improve as a community. Often times, the most charismatic and influential members of Hip-Hop end up meeting their demise (mostly through gun violence) far too soon due to their ties in the neighborhoods they come from. One of the murders that had a definitive ripple effect throughout Hip-Hop in the past year was the death of Nipsey Hussle. On March 31, 2019 Nipsey Hussle was murdered in front of the Marathon Clothing store that he owned and used as a component to stimulate his community in South Los Angeles. What made this murder so troubling and disheartening was that the suspect Eric Holder was at one point in the same crew as Nipsey Hussle.
The discussion that spawned from Nipsey’s death was one that constantly arises after tragedy but never seems to be answered: Do we really support our leaders and artists in Hip-Hop the way we really should? What can be done to circumvent these misdeeds and protect the people who are making a difference not only in Hip-Hop but in communities at large?
After speaking with many fans of Hip-Hop who follow and support the movement, most believe that the problems that stem from the blending of street culture and Hip-Hop are still very prevalent in the present. One element that causes things to go awry in Hip-Hop is the messages that are delivered by a large portion of the artists who contribute to the art. There are many moments where artists will tell about the violence that happens in their surroundings or speak about committing the acts themselves. This ultimately becomes problematic because while artists claim that the music they make is for entertainment, this propels the listeners in some cases to take those lyrics to heart and act on them.
Despite the many critiques, there were other fans that believe that there has been solid progress made in perpetuating better practices of ownership and solidarity within Hip-Hop in memoriam of Nipsey. Many artists have taken more time to speak on the importance of ownership and Hip-Hop and why it is a vital component of sustaining yourself in music. This shift in the culture is influenced greatly by Nipsey because he was an artist who utilized the independent blueprint to the greatest extent possible. With his success coming from not only musical accolades like Grammys but also outreach efforts like starting a STEM program in school programs in his local LA community; Nipsey Hussle epitomized what could be done with the proper amount of ability and intention.
Going forward, we must continue to do our best both as creatives and fans alike to honor the memory and spirit of artists like Nipsey Hussle by building up ownership and equity within our own communities. We must also be better at uplifting and protecting people who are in positions of leadership and influence within Hip-Hop so they can maximize their potential and promise they possess. Artists like Nipsey are capable of great things in many different fields and deserve the chance to build success without the fear of losing their life while serving the people they live for.
FEB. 15, 2020