When Nip was killed last year outside his Marathon shop in South LA, USA, the world came to a stop. Tributes came from one end of the world to the other.
Government officials, artists, actors, musicians, and sport icons paid their respects to him, while his fans across the globe held candle vigils in their home towns. From East Coast to West Coast of the USA, Australia to Canada, England to Eritrea, Nips supporters came together to mourn, remember and celebrate his life. Above all, long time gang enemies Bloods and Crips came together to pay their respects to Ermias. This was testimony to the sort of greater-than-life persona he possessed.
In my 2019 article, remembering Nipsey and his influence, I said his life was cut short and it will take us a very long time to accept it, if we ever do, that is. Almost a year on it is still a reality we do not seem to come to terms with. This is indicated in the recognition that has poured over the past year crediting his influence over the music industry and his community. Last year, the BET awards paid tribute to Nipsey by awarding him the Humanitarian award for his contribution.
Jay-z memorialized him in his B sides 2 freestyle, The Game did the same in his Born to Rap Album with the single I didn’t want to Write this song, From Eritrea to South Central From South Central to Brooklyn, look at what you been through, versed a clearly distraught The Game.
His much talked about album, Victory Lap, which he released several months prior to his untimely death and was rightly nominated for a Grammy for best rap album of the year, soared up to the top of the Billboard charts. Car stereos blared with singles Keys to the City and Hussle & Motivate from Asmara to Crenshaw. Motivational lyrics from his songs were quoted and posted all over social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other accounts remain to this day things people look at for inspiration and lift ups. Above all, his identity came to the fore. Nipsey has always been proud of where he came from, his culture and heritage, visiting his homeland on several occasions, his last in 2018. “I’m half American and half Eritrean—as much as I am a black person from America, I am a black person from Africa too,” he once said in his interview with the Dallas radio station, KBFB.
At the Grammy 2020 held on Monday Nips posthumously received further recognition for his music winning Best Rap Performance of the year for Racks in the Middle, beating the likes of J.Cole “MIDDLE CHILD” and the Dreamville posse cut “Down Bad”, Offset and Cardi B “Clout”, and DaBaby “Suge”, while he won his second grammy on the night for his collaboration on Higher with DJ Khalid and John Legend. In an emotional acceptance speech, Nipsey Hussle’s grandmother said, “I wanted to thank all of you for showing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life and will always live in my heart, so thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” His brother Samuel Asghedom said, “Last year bro was nominated and it meant the world to bro. When it was given to somebody else we looked at each other and the whole team and said, ‘God meant to give it to that person. If it’s meant to be, he’ll be back here.’” Nip going back was exactly what has happened. Although Nip wins his first Grammy posthumously he was indeed there represented by his entire family and long-time girlfriend, Lauren London.
Held in the same place where Nip’s funeral was held, the staples center — home to the LA Lakers, his favorite Basketball team — witnessed another magical night when a tribute performance was held in remembrance of his life.
Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch opened the performance with letter to Nipsey and DJ Khalid, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, performed Higher, a single that was released weeks after his death.
“You keep takin me higher and higher
But don’t you know that the devil is a liar? (Yeah, I know)
They’d rather see me down, put my soul in the fire
But we keep goin’ higher, higher”
Sang John Legend wearing traditional Eritrean attire, with backup singers and dancers in the back in the same attire, Nipsey came on a big screen and sang his part too;
My granny 88, she had my uncle and then
A miscarriage back-to-back every year for like ten
Pregnant with my moms, doctor told her it was slim
Was bed rode for nine months, but gave birth in the end
Pops turned 60, he proud what we done
In one generation, he came from Africa young
He said he met my moms at the Century Club
Los Angeles love kinda of like Hussle and Boog
Mani turned ten, Kross turned two
Startin’ to see this life shit from a bird’s view
We the ones that made millions off the curb, fool
In this rap shit ten, never made nerd moves
DJ Khalid echoed, Long live Nip! Long live Kobe!
LA had just lost another of its favorite sons, Kobe ‘Black Mamba’ Bryant to a helicopter crash several hours before the performance. The performance was worthy of Nipsey stature and most importantly his identity. Performers paid tribute to the late rapper and his cultural heritage and custom by donning traditional Eritrean clothes. The women in Zuria and men in traditional men white garments.
According to an Eritrean saying, the world is not only imperfect but it is also contradiction in motion. A likeable rogue, as it were. It gives pleasure and it bestows pain at the same time. But with all its injustices, no one wants to leave it soon. We learn as we grow and in the course of our life, we climb abstract mountains, descend into spiritual valleys, fall into an allegorical abyss, bump against mental walls, make symbolic turns, run through subconscious barriers, burst like volcanoes, swallow our anger, live with our humiliations and sorrows, suffer injustices, tolerate the intolerable, smile to hide our feelings and continue in this sweet torment until the day we die. While we have our own plans, God has his own plans for all of us.
Ermias Asghedom was an example to his community and peers and to this day remains so, and he will continue to be an example through his music and humanitarian acts. In his music we find the blue print to living a full life and in his music he will forever remain among us.