Can’t Knock The Hussle: The Legacy of Nipsey Hussle & The Impact He Left. By Isaiah Rhodes

Can’t Knock The Hussle: The Legacy of Nipsey Hussle 
& The Impact He Left.
By Isaiah Rhodes

When I first started this piece I was going to break down “GOATS” in different genres & how people establish their criteria for a GOAT For those unfamiliar with the acronym, it means GREATEST of ALL TIME. It's usually reserved for an individual in a particular field, examples being: Muhammad Ali in Boxing, Michael Jordan in basketball, or Michael Jackson in music.

With that said, everything changed when Rapper, Entrepreneur, and Community Activist Nipsey Hussle was murdered outside of his Marathon Clothing Store in the Crenshaw District of South Central Los Angeles on March 31, 2019. His sudden death at the hands of someone within the community he fought so vigorously for was and still is heartbreaking. Also considering Hussle's history as a reformed gang member affiliated with the Rolling 60s Crips, Hussle escaped, made something of himself while becoming a beacon of light for youth growing up in similar circumstances and became a symbol of hope. For him to die in that fashion almost seems to be a cruel irony many have yet to come to grips with, including myself.

Nipsey embarked on his “Marathon” releasing a series of mixtapes under the moniker (The Marathon, The Marathon Continues, X-tra Laps) to embody the work, time & distance he was willing to put in to be the very best at what he does. With the success of The Marathon series, Hussle took the brand and ran with it opening up a clothing store with his brother in the same parking lot plaza he hustled his mixtapes in years earlier. It was a small piece of a much larger effort to “buy back the block” He sold his mixtapes in that store. He also sold merchandise brandishing the “Crenshaw” name he loved so dearly, while also creating a business model that was able to sustain him financially without going to the “middle” man for validation.

Hussle then built his own studio, Marathon Studios, investing in himself full-fledged.
After his critically acclaimed mixtape, "Crenshaw" was released. The marketing
behind the project was unique in that it was
on sale for $100 in the mold of a scarcity model,printing 1,000 physical copies. The mixtape
was also available on all streaming platforms for free but this project was the spearhead for his “Proud 2 Pay” campaign.
It gave fans the opportunity to support the movement for all of the “game” & inspiration Hussle provided through his music throughout the years. While he received initial criticism for the idea, Music big wigs took notice, including Jay Z. The “Can’t Knock The Hustle” connoisseur respected the hustle so much he bought 100 copies on the strength of its courage and execution.
As the industry began to take notice of Hussle, his radical approach to not just art but business came to the forefront on a national scale. In an interview with "Big Boy" on 92.3 in Los Angeles, he explained some of his sentiments.

“We didn’t want to wait on anybody. We’re gonna work with what we got for now. We ain’t just gonna wait until it's going to be a platinum album until we got a major label to spend a million on marketing. We're going to release music and repeat the cycle, getting bigger off just working with what we got"

He would later expand...
“I believe in ownership. I believe in investing in yourself. When you make money you can easily go
a lot of places, but your foundation should be strong”
With initial plans of releasing his debut album “Victory Lap” as a cap to his Marathon Mixtape series, the success of Crenshaw put that on the back burner for some time. Subsequent releases of Mailbox Money & Slauson Boy 2 only added more anticipation to Hussle’s debut, but he never stopped building his business portfolio.

As he describes it in his “Self Made” interview with Forbes from 2018: “It’s about establishing an ecosystem...We're creating an ecosystem from production to consumption. Not only do we own the supply chain, but we can curate the experience. From the ownership to the actual Master, to the retail experience and marketing the product, to consuming it”

It’s this type of Ecosystem business model that Hussle strived to create within his community.
The release of this album was a culmination of all the adversity overcome. To see Hussle get his just due as an artist outside of being an exceptional businessman was gratifying as a fan because you felt as if you ran the marathon with him, but applicable to your own personal endeavor. And when he was nominated for best rap album at the Grammys earlier this year, it was a championship on so many different levels.

And here we are trying to put pieces together to a tragedy that was so unnecessary. To see the outpouring of love Hussle has received since his passing selfishly validated me as a fan all I felt about his movement. But when I step outside myself and see the impact he had on not only his community but the world at large, I am not only inspired but at a loss at the same time. Nipsey accomplished so much before the age of 34 but also had so much to give. He had yet to scratch the surface of his boundless potential but based on his moves and purpose you just knew he was intent on reaching it.
According to a diagram by Data Journalist Semmi W, His business ventures were able to hire or assist upwards of 41,000 people and the projected value of his investments between 2013-2019 is in the 200 million. Nipsey also played an active role in establishing Destination Crenshaw: 1.3-mile open-air museum showcasing art & culture to revitalize &
recognize Black Los Angeles, which is set to open in 2020.
Most recently, Hussle's business partner Dave Gross revealed that they were part owners of a resort and Casino in Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open in 2020. With all he had accomplished and all he was on par to do at the time of his death it would be easy for us to wonder “what if....” and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at times, but I take solace in knowing Hussle would want all of us to maximize our potential, creating our own value & taking ownership of whatever we create. I take solace in knowing that his life is a shining example of how you can take control of your destiny regardless of circumstances and make a gargantuan impact on the world by living your truth.
In his most recent release "Racks in the Middle" Hussle dedicates the second verse to a fallen friend Stephen "Fatts" Donelson, who was there with him during adolescence & infancy of his music career. "Fatts” death came right before Nipsey would sign his deal with Atlantic and garner much of the success and recognition he's been working toward for years.
“Engine in the Lambo drownin' out the music
Silk Dior with the flowers, five gold Cubans
Champagne while I shop, hope I splurge foolish
Closin' Escrow twice this month, both commercial units
Damn, I wish my nigga Fatts was here
How you die thirty somethin' after banging all them years?
Grammy-nominated, in the sauna sheddin' tears
All this money, power, fame and I can't make you reappear
But I don't wipe 'em though
We just embrace the only life we know
If it was me, I would tell you, "Nigga, live your life and grow"
I'd tell you, "Finish what we started, reach them heights, you know?
And gas the V-12 to the pipe and smoke"

While this is a reference to" Fatts," it's applicable to all of us. Nipsey would want us to
"run our marathon til' our lungs hurt" and in his honor, that’s what I will do.


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