Last week the world lost a living legend. Ermias Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle, was gunned down by someone from his same hood, someone he knew well. At only age 33, Nipsey was just getting started on the journey towards fulfilling his purpose, but he had already accomplished so much.
Though far too many people forget where they came from, Nipsey never did. He continuously gave back to the community that raised him. He brought jobs, STEM organizations, and restoration to South Central LA. Because of his commitment to bettering his community and buying back the hood, his death has people all over the world grieving.
Nipsey Hussle, San Antonio Mural, Photo by: Palmwine
Above you see the mural of Nipsey that’s right here in San Antonio. Observer staff got a chance to talk to the artist, LA native Colton Valentine. Colton faced a lot of criticism online when an unfinished photo of the mural was circulated through social media. It’s baffling how people can hate on someone using their talent to honor and respect a legend like Nipsey. Colton never lost focus, saying “I’ve learned to have a lot more patience since moving from Cali to Texas. For the haters – I have nothing to say. I would rather let my work speak for itself.”
Colton’s tribute to Nipsey wasn’t made for anyone other than himself, as Nipsey’s music has greatly affected his life. Nipsey’s album, Victory Lap, pushed Colton to take his art seriously and reminded of the importance of investing into himself and his work. Nipsey’s music has pushed him to keep going for years through life’s biggest struggles. He put in his heart and soul into creating this masterpiece, even though he initially thought it would be tough to paint because he’d be staring at Nipsey’s face for hours.
When he finally finished he took a step back, really looked at Nipsey’s face fully, and felt relief. “It was a good feeling to finish and have [people around] hanging out all day playing Nipsey’s music.”
Colton was quick to remind us that losing people is normal when you grow up in the
trenches, but Nipsey was someone who helped get through those tough times. When we asked if he thought the streets are dead since someone from the same hood as Nipsey killed him, without missing a beat he said “honestly, that’s just how the streets go.” He speaks from experience as he has lost two close friends to the streets – Michael Jefferson, who was shot in the back over petty gang issues and a friend named Will who was beaten to death. “That kid had a baby on the way and a heart of gold,” Colton remembered.
There are many lessons we can take away from the life of Nipsey Hussle and our conversation with Colton Valentine, but the main lesson that the eastside and our city as a whole have yet to learn is the importance of working from WITHIN our community to build our community. Who would have brought a STEM organization to South Central LA if Nipsey hadn’t? Who would have provided jobs to the formerly incarcerated if Nipsey hadn’t? He could have planted his seeds and sowed his oats anywhere in the world as an internationally recognized artist, but he stayed right at home…uplifting the people who have always uplifted him.
The marathon continues, but our community should take this as a reminder to never forget where we come from and to stop hating on those that are using their talents for good and not evil.