LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nipsey Hussle, the skilled and respected rapper who earned a Grammy nomination this year for his major-label debut and was heavily respected in South Los Angeles where he grew up, has died, authorities said. He was 33.
The Los Angeles Crisis Response team said Sunday that “we lost a great musician” and support has been offered to Hussle’s family.
“Our prayers are with them and all those who knew and loved Nipsey Hussle,” the crisis team said.
Police said three men were shot Sunday and one of them killed outside Marathon Clothing, the store Hussle owns. Police said the other two men were in stable condition.
Representatives for the rapper didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking confirmation of his death.
A large crowd of fans and residents gathered behind police lines as night fell. Detectives were canvassing the area for witnesses and looking to see if any surveillance video captured the incident, police Lt. Chris Ramirez said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted his condolences Sunday.
“Our hearts are with the loved ones of Nipsey Hussle and everyone touched by this awful tragedy. L.A. is hurt deeply each time a young life is lost to senseless gun violence,” Garcetti tweeted. “My Crisis Response Team is assisting the families coping with shock and grief.”
Hussle, whose real name is Ermias Asghedom, was born on Aug. 15, 1985, in the Crenshaw neighborhood of south Los Angeles.
The Eritrean-American said his first passion was music but getting resources was tough since he left his mother’s house at 14 to live with his grandmother. Hussle said he got involved in street life as he tried to support himself, and he joined the gang Rollin 60’s Neighborhood Crips as a teenager.
“The culture of my area is the gang culture … so by being outside, being involved with hustling, being in the hood, doing things to try to get money, being young, you know riding your bike through the hood, getting shot at, your loved ones and homies that’s your age getting killed, getting shot at … it’s like, we were just raised like if you with me and something goes now, I’m in it, whether I’m from the (expletive) or not,” he said in a 2014 interview with VladTV. “So after a while it just be like you always in the middle of some (expletive), you might as well, you know what I mean … be part of it. Or don’t be a part of it and get the (expletive) out the way.”
Music eventually happened for Hussle. The proud West Coast rapper released a number of successful mixtapes that he sold out of the trunk of his car, helping him create a buzz and gain respect from rap purists and his peers. In 2010 he placed on hip-hop magazine XXL’s “Freshman Class of 2010” — a coveted list for up-and-coming hip-hop acts — alongside J. Cole Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Rock and others.
Hussle continued to build more hype for himself, and Jay-Z even bought 100 copies of Hussle’s 2013 mixtape “Crenshaw” for $100 each, sending the budding rapper a $10,000 check.
But Hussle, who was once signed to Sony’s Epic Records, hit a new peak with “Victory Lap,” his critically acclaimed major-label debut album on Atlantic Records that made several best-of lists last year, from Billboard magazine to Complex. The album debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s 200 albums charts and featured collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Diddy, CeeLo Green and more.
At this year’s Grammy Awards, “Victory Lap” was one of five nominees for best rap album in a year that hip-hop dominated the pop charts and streaming services and a number of top stars released projects, including Drake, Eminem and Kanye West. Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” won the honor last month, while the other nominees were Travis Scott, Pusha T and Mac Miller.
“It’s my debut album so for my first one (to be nominated) out the gate, it’s like, it was overwhelming a little bit. It was … inspiring, humbling,” he said in an interview with the Recording Academy on the 2019 Grammys red carpet.
Hussle attended the Grammys with his daughter. The rapper was engaged to actress Lauren London.
The world mourned his death on social media Sunday. NBA star Steph Curry tweeted, “God please cover and restore @NipseyHussle right now!!!”
“This doesn’t make any sense! My spirit is shaken by this!,” Rihanna wrote on social media while posting photos of Hussle with his daughter and another with his fiance. “Dear God may His spirit Rest In Peace and May You grant divine comfort to all his loved ones! I’m so sorry this happened to you @nipseyhussle.”
Snoop Dogg posted a video of himself and Hussle together on Instagram, and posted a second clip sending prayers to the rapper’s family.
“Prayers out to the whole family man. This (stuff has) got to stop man,” he said in the second video.
Rapper Nas mourned Hussle’s death on Instagram and wrote, “It’s dangerous to be an MC. Dangerous to be a b-ball player. It’s dangerous to have money. Dangerous To Be A Black Man.”
“So much hatred. We live like our brothers and sisters in third world countries live. Right in America,” he continued. “Its so deep rooted. It’s not a easy fix. Hard to fix anything when kids are still living in poverty. I ain’t shutting up though, Nipsey is a True voice. He will never be silenced.”
Outside of music, Hussle said he wanted to provide hope and motivation to those who grew up in Crenshaw like him, and pay it forward.
Hussle was also a strong businessman. In a story published in February, Forbes wrote that the rapper and business partner Dave Gross purchased the Crenshaw plaza where his Marathon Clothing store is located, and had plans to knock it down and “rebuild it as a six-story residential building atop a commercial plaza where a revamped Marathon store will be the anchor tenant.”
“Watching Nipsey inspired me to invest and own in our communities,” Emmy-nominated actress Issa Rae, also from Los Angeles, wrote on Twitter.
In 2016, Hussle and rapper YG released the protest song “FDT,” short for “(Expletive) Donald Trump,” criticizing the U.S. President’s policies when he was the Republican presidential candidate.