Lead Story West Edition

Getting their ‘Hussle’ on: fans plan celebration for slain rapper

HYDE PARK — A celebration of rapper Nipsey Hussle’s life and legacy will be held on from 1 to 4 p.m. June 9, in front of Hussle’s the Marathon Store located near Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.

Hundreds of fans and supporters are expected to attend the event, but details of the celebration have not been disclosed.

Despite Hussle’s untimely death, fans of the Grammy-nominated rapper are still flocking to the Marathon Store to pay their respects.

Hussle, 33, born Ermias Asghedom, was gunned down on March 31 by 29-year-old Eric Holder, who is confined to the Los Angeles County Jail where he is awaiting trial for the killing.

According to a May 3 announcement on Instagram, Hussle’s brick and mortar retail store has closed its doors — although online orders are continuing to be sold.

There were reports that days after Hussle’s death store employees were inundated with filling orders — with some estimates that as much as $10 million in orders were placed. Store employees quickly notified online customers that all orders would be filled.

Hussle started out selling his mix tapes from the back of his car trunk. From that humble beginning, he eventually grew his enterprises into an $8-million business.

Hussle’s Hyde Park retail store, which opened June 17, 2017, did brisk business selling hats and T-shirts that bore the Crenshaw logo, representing the area where Hussle grew up. He is credited for starting the first retail “smart store” in South Los Angeles.

It is reported that Hussle eventually purchased the plaza where the store resides with his business partner, Dave Gross, for $2 million.

Besides his flagship Marathon store, Hussle also owned Steve’s Barbershop, Elite Human Hair, Wireless Connection cell phone shop and restaurants Baba Leo and Fish Shack.

Hussle’s older brother and co-owner Samuel Asghedom, known as Blacc Sam, has since taken over operation of the properties.

“Before we was renting here, I was hustling in this parking lot,” Hussle told Forbes magazine. “It’s just always been a hub for local entrepreneurs.”

Hussle caught the attention of Atlantic Records in November 2017, who signed him under his label All Money In. Hussle’s debut studio album Victory Lap album earned him a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.

Hussle was also known for improving his community, giving residents jobs and housing the homeless.

As visitors milled around the parking lot, Hussle’s longtime friend and employee Herman “Cowboy” Douglas darted back and forth through the shopping center chatting with visitors and sporting a jean jacket with Hussle’s face painted on the back.

“I was a friend and an employee of Hussle’s since 2003,” Cowboy said. “I’m on the Hussle team. I still make sure his properties run smoothly. If I have to clean the back alley and the store, I do it. I also make sure that the tourists who visit the store are safe.”

Cowboy also broke the news that the Marathon store is going through a temporary closing.

“There is going to be a Marathon II store,” he said. “We are definitely going to reopen. We’ve already put in brand new floors in the store and an air conditioning unit in the barbershop.”

Cowboy said that over the years, he and Hussle had formed a close friendship.

“Nipsey gave me books to read and he always gave me advice,” he said.

Hussle was known as an avid reader and a deep thinker.

“He would always say, ‘Read this book’ and he talked to me about drinking green tea,” Cowboy added.

He said that fans from all over the U. S. and the globe have been solemnly streaming into the pink shopping center just to stand in the space where the slain rapper was killed.

“We’ve had people from Germany, Australia, Japan, Texas and Louisiana coming every day,” he said.

Dozens of fans have continue to flow in and out of the shopping center.

Zack Dorthy, 23, said he flew in from Seattle just to visit the store.

“I was a big fan of Hussle’s. I downloaded all of his albums,” Dorthy said. “He was a role model because he took care of the community. If he were alive, I would thank him for being the man that he was and taking care of his community.”

Vanessa Adol Phe, 26, and her friend, Jimika Smith, 28, said they flew in from Brooklyn, to visit the store. They had been planning the trip for two months before Hussle was killed.

“I never thought I would feel impacted by a person I had never met,” Phe said. “He was a beautiful product of the community.”  

“He’s a true definition of a young person changing their life,” Smith said.

Himat Singh, 24, a real estate broker, said he and his friend had flown in from Vancouver, Canada.

“We grew up listening to Nipsey,” Singh said. “He’s an inspiration and an entrepreneur. You have to be willing to risk it all, but the reward is high.”

Louis Dangervil, 36, a writer-director, said, “His death was a tragic situation. It has already caused me to think about how to better one’s self and the purpose of one’s life. He was definitely a positive representation of what a black male should be looking to do with their lives.”

Caesar Cardenas, 30, an Amazon delivery driver, said he had traveled from Sacramento with his wife, P.J. Cardenas, 27, and their young son to visit Disneyland in Anaheim. But after leaving the amusement park they headed to the Marathon Store.

“After hearing of Nipsey’s passing, we hugged our son real tight,” Cardenas said. “We appreciate things more now. There we were, smiling at Disneyland and now here we are at the Marathon Store dealing with heavy hearts.”

“I wanted to feel his presence. He was a good dude,” said one male visitor, who flew in from Nashville, Tenn., with his sister and his son. “I started recognizing Nipsey in 2013. He rapped on one of my favorite artist’s Wale’s mix tapes called ‘Folarin.” Nipsey sang on the cut called ‘Chun Li.’”

“I just started getting into Nipsey’s music right before he died,” said Jamareon Mack, 20, an aspiring actor. “He was a pretty cool guy. He gave a lot of tips on how to motivate yourself in life and how to maintain your finances and show love for your people.”

Ira Williams, 32, said he had traveled from Queens, New York with his wife, Toi Williams.

“Nipsey was about information and knowledge. Any time I saw Nipsey, I thought about black-owned businesses,” Williams said.

San Diego resident Sue Stevens, 50, climbed off a Hip Hop Hollywood Tour bus to snap pictures of the huge mural of Hussle that graced the alley. Stevens said she and her husband had earlier attended a Greatful Dead concert and decided to make a stop at the Marathon Store.

“It’s really striking how emotional it all is,” she said.

Chyna Pryor, 23, and her sister, Ariel Pryor, 16, had flown in from Chicago to pay their respects.

“We like what Nipsey did for his ‘hood and the way he stayed around his community to try to upgrade it,” Chyna said.

“I learned how important it is for the community to come together and to make sure everybody is okay,” said Ariel.

Fans snapped photos of themselves and friends in front of the colorful Nipsey Hussle mural, which features the rapper flanked by two huge white wings.

Many also took pictures in front of Hussle’s gigantic black Brink’s truck, which is still parked prominently in the parking lot.  

“This is not a Brink’s truck, it’s a money truck,” said Cowboy, pointing to the vehicle. Nipsey’s slogan was “All money in, no money out,” he said.