Nipsey Hussle was, and is, the epitome of ‘coming from nothing to creating everything.’ He reflected many of the life circumstances and experiences that so many young black millennials come from and that is specifically why his untimely death hurts so deeply. From an active gang member who started off hustling, to creating income for himself, to later becoming a musical artist and business owner, then a self-made Grammy-award nominee (while owning all his masters), Nipsey continuously evolved and shared the tools of his success. Days after the global shockwave that has sent the African-American community and other supporting communities into a state of shock, anger, and hopelessness, we must cherish and reflect on the life Nipsey lived. We must remember the selfless service to his community, and recognize the true genius behind building his music, business, and philanthropic platforms.
Needing some time to grieve on my own and cultivate some energy within myself to keep pushing, I use this article as the dedication to Nipsey. Hopefully in the process, this serves as healing and encouragement to the deep wound left in our community.
Here are 5 Legendary Keys on life and success that Nipsey left with us:
- The Journey Is The Process
“I feel good about what I’m waking up doing and about my lifestyle. At one point, I wasn’t proud of my lifestyle… Now, I wake up with the feeling that I’m going in the direction that I’m here for. Like, what I’m on this planet for, I’m doing it.” – Nipsey Hussle
Hussle grew up in Los Angeles, California during the ’80s and ’90s, where gang culture was thriving and for many young African American teens, the only option they had for survival. In the neighborhood where Rollin 60s Crip, one of the largest gangs in Los Angeles was stationed, Hussle and his brother joined and left home at an early age, dropped out of school, and began hustling to create revenue. Selling t-shirts, socks, music, and many other items in order to make money — they became a go-to pop up shop in Los Angeles until the police began to constantly shut them down and take their products off the street. Tired of being harassed Hussle and his business partners decided to rent a vacant building in his neighborhood and it was there “The Marathon” was birthed.
Combining his street smarts on how to create revenue quickly and also understanding what exactly his consumers needed, he became a force within the Crenshaw district moving from a storefront building to owning the entire strip mall where it was located.
The journey is apart of the process. Growing up I used to love to talk, I love to write about anything — but I would have never imagined years later I would find myself using these gifts to create stories for others to see and open doors of opportunity for myself. Nipsey started off selling whatever he could to create personal revenue to now becoming an entrepreneurial trailblazer and a lighthouse in his community. Never underestimate why you’re going through something difficult or confusing. We often times question why we have to go through a hard time or why we have to start off at a job that is menial, but it is in those experiences that we gain the knowledge and power to prepare us for what we are truly called to do in the grand scheme of life.
2. Go All In Or Don’t Go At All
“The most important thing, number one, is you gotta get rid of doubt. If you got doubt in what you’re doing, it’s not gonna work and the way to do that is you have a plan. ‘Cause if you got a plan, it’s not just like a pipe-dream, you have a step-by-step list of things to do to get to your goal” – Nipsey Hussle
Back in 2013, Hussle took a crazy leap of faith by releasing 1,000 copies of his mixtape “Crenshaw” at $100 each, which was considered a crazy move back then. He caught the attention of well-known musical artist and businessman Jay-Z, who respected his business move and bought 100 copies, boosting Nipsey’s earnings to an instant $100,000. Hussle then used his earnings for his different business ventures and fund his clothing line, “The Marathon” and develop a 100-unit commercial and residential property in Los Angeles.
Starting off as a local rapper in Los Angeles selling CDs out of his car, Nipsey saw a vision for himself and while he, admittedly, did not know exactly how it would exactly play out, he kept moving, kept working, and kept brainstorming until his success manifested.
When pursuing a specific goal or long-term dream you have to remove any form of doubt within your mental space in order for it to work. In many sit-down interviews and in his music Hussle spoke heavily about the power of speaking what you want into existence — often times the life path doesn’t move as quickly or look as beautiful while in the process but it’s with a system built on faith in your end goal that you find the strength to endure.
3. Protect Your Genius
“Define who you are and what you are, and be clear on that. Meditate on that and then, live and die by that… You can’t break the rules, the fundamental rules.” – Nipsey Hussle
Hussle sustained success from his ability to brand himself and not compromise his vision for himself. Hussle refused to believe he needed a connection with high-profile industry leaders in order to get him in the door — he was willing to create a door for himself. Hussle created his own record label, All Money In, after struggling with his former record label where he felt that his creative freedom with work was compromised. Under his own label and a partnership with Atlantic Records, he released his Grammy-nominated album, Victory Lap.
It was around this same time that Hussle created The Marathon Agency. The Marathon Agency is a Brand Consulting Agency invested in by Hussle who also partnered with media guru, Karen Civil — the agency is dedicated to working talent-based clients in need of effective brand consultation working with high-profile clientele like musical artists YG, Dave East, Nick Cannon, Nicki Minaj, and Jeezy.
In this day and age where anything can go viral in an instant, be sure you have created a protective bubble around your creative genius, and that you can also create opportunities for yourself.
4. Don’t Let Your Circumstances Reflect Your Outcome
“I look at it like the game gonna test you. Everything gonna test you if it’s worthwhile and you gonna make decisions based on what you care about more. And without even being conscious that you’re getting tested, you’re gonna be getting tested, so you’re gonna have decisions to make. Should I continue this lifestyle?” – Nipsey Hussle
The foundation of Nipsey’s entire platform was based on ‘The Marathon’ – understanding that the race is not won by the swift, but by to the one that endures and acts with urgency when an opportunity presents itself. Hussle is a prime example that things do not always happen overnight. Often times, it may require several months or years to see your vision come into fruition but believe that it will come to pass.
I’ll be preaching to myself on this one, but oftentimes I believe as millennials we struggle with this instant gratification syndrome and “overnight” success mentality. When things don’t happen the way we expect them to turn out on the first try we are ready to question our entire purpose debating if this is the right decision — but it was Hussle that taught us about the importance of the marathon. You must be dedicated to appreciating the journey to the end rather than focusing on the quickest way to the end.
As a college graduate, I can attest to the fact sometimes when your current circumstances are not working in your favor you can tend to think you’ve messed up — but it’s in those moments you have to say, “this is preparing for my next big move.” You have to stay diligent to the vision that you see for yourself and constantly calculate new angles to pursue that vision until it comes to pass, it took more nearly a year after graduating college to begin to find traction and purpose in my journey again. You don’t have to stay here and you will not stay where you are right now, it’s simply a test of your endurance and dedication to get to the first line, does your fire to succeed outshine your desire to give in? If yes, then you must keep going.
5. It’s Bigger Than You
“The best thing you can do for a person is to inspire them. That’s the best currency you can offer: inspiration. So, when a person can rely on you for that, that empowers them in every realm of their life. Being inspired. It empowers them in their relationships, in their business, in their art, in their creativity. It empowers them because without inspiration, you’re dry.” – Nipsey Hussle
Looking in retrospect at the legacy that Hussle left, he knew early-on in his career that his platform was much bigger than him — it was about creating a bridge for the underrepresented. Hussle lived and died by his neighborhood on the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson. He took great pride in being from Crenshaw (south-central Los Angeles), and believed that this community would benefit from creating inspiration, love and opportunity, as well as encouragement for children to pursue their wildest dreams.
It was with his passion to create a loving community within Crenshaw district that Hussle launched Vector 90, a combination co-working space and STEM education center (which stands for science, technology, engineering and math). Both were designed with education and career opportunities in mind, to promote diversity within the STEM field, and reduce identify technology gaps within underrepresented communities. Hussle also played a vital role in launching Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3 mile “open-air” museum dedicated to honoring the Black history and appreciating the black art to be displayed on Crenshaw Blvd.
Hussle understood that true success is not how much material wealth you’ve accumulated but whom you’ve left inspired to go after what they dream of — your success is connected to so many other people that will need you as a beacon of light to endure their race.
Personal Note: Growing up in Los Angeles with just about a five-minute drive to Hussle’s clothing store, seeing him grow from a store-front to owning a strip mall was a representation to me that advancement is possible. Growing up in Los Angeles with many African American engulfed in the gang culture of the 90s and early 2000s (including both my Mother and Father), statistically speaking I am supposed to be a product of my environment and a third-generation gang member. However, it was seeing individuals like Hussle creating nothing from something that gave me the inspiration to find my gift and tap into and recreate what it means to be from Crenshaw District. I don’t think I will ever get over his death, but in the words of the late great Nipsey Hussle, “the marathon continues.”