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Grammy-Nominated Rapper Nipsey Hussle Shot Dead In Los Angeles

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There are a lot of music fans grieving this morning. Rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in South Los Angeles yesterday. He was 33 years old and the father of two children. He'd been in the music industry for almost 15 years before he released this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VICTORY LAP")

NIPSEY HUSSLE: (Rapping) I'm a urban legend, South Central in a certain section. Can't express how I curbed detectives, guess it's evidence of a divine presence. Blessings...

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That was "Victory Lap," the title track from his debut album, which earned Nipsey Hussle a victory lap - a Grammy nomination for best rap album of 2018. The sound was fueled by years in the neighborhoods of South Los Angeles, where he made a living on the streets any way he could. Here's NPR music reporter Rodney Carmichael.

RODNEY CARMICHAEL, BYLINE: His music was about what it means to be a young black man growing up in a community like Crenshaw, where you're a member of a gang not as much by choice as by circumstance.

MARTIN: That was the case for Nipsey Hussle. Time changed him, though. Last year on the radio station 97.9 The Beat, he explained his evolution from street hustler to entrepreneur.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "VEDA LOCA IN THE MORNING")

HUSSLE: You go through close calls and things where you get kind of close to feeling like you gon' (ph) throw your [expletive] - throw stuff away...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: To the edge.

HUSSLE: ...Excuse me - your freedom, you know, your life, your opportunity. And you come out them situations somehow.

INSKEEP: So he tried to bring up his community. He opened local businesses, hiring people from in the neighborhood - a transformation that made his violent death even more shocking. NPR's Rodney Carmichael.

CARMICHAEL: This is something that I don't think anybody was expecting or prepared for. He was such a respected figure.

MARTIN: Nipsey Hussle's final project may go unfinished. Los Angeles police commissioner Steve Soboroff confirmed on Twitter that Nipsey Hussle had invited him and the city's police chief, Michel Moore, to meet today to talk about ways to combat gang violence.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHECC ME OUT")

HUSSLE: I came from nothing, shootouts in public, riding buses. Buying Benzes was buying buckets. Knock me off from my grind, that's what they wasn't. My life was ugly, then I got money. Caught a glimpse of that, and that's not for me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.