Moving Nipsey’s legacy from the internet to the streets
To finish the mission, we must do more than post, like, and retweet
I am sure that I was not the only one who’s timeline was flooded with birthday wishes to Nipsey Hussle and photos with Nipsey supporters young and old wearing Nipsey Hussle T-shirts or photos of Nipsey fans outside of the Marathon Clothing store in South Central LA.
To be honest it felt good to see such a diverse group of my friends across so many races, ages, and orientations paying homage to Nipsey and acknowledging the collective loss that our community continues to mourn.
While we remember and celebrate Nipsey Hussle on his birthday, as we should, perhaps the best way to celebrate his legacy is to move it off Facebook and Instagram and into our neighborhoods, school boards, and city halls and get involved in the communities that we live to be an active part of the change we want to see.
Nipsey’s impact on urban culture especially West Coast culture was undeniable and definitely not limited to just his music, in fact some might argue that the music opened the door to the many other things that were true passions for Nipsey including economic empowerment, job and skills training, entrepreneurship and business development.
Nipsey along with his partner David Gross opened Vector 90, a co-working and business development hub in South Central where aspiring young entrepreneurs can rent office space and incubate their business in a like mind environment. According to the Vector 90 website, Vector 90 co-working spaces will anchor cultural and intellectual hubs for entrepreneurs and creatives, and will heighten the economic and social fabric of the neighborhoods Vector 90 enters.
Technology and Access
Recognizing that the technology gap equates to an economic gap between African American’s and other communities, Nipsey launched a STEM program inside of Vector 90 to ensure access to technology and training for youth in South Central LA.
“In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,’” he said. “And that’s cool but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ I think that with me being influential as an artist and young and coming from the inner city, it makes sense for me to be one of the people that’s waving that flag.” – Nipsey Hussle – Los Angeles Times
Property Ownership and Affordable Housing
Nipsey purchased the property where his Marathon Store is located on the intersection of Crenshaw and Slauson in South Central Los Angeles with the plan of developing a six-story mixed use building that will have affordable housing and retail space. The development of this property is underway.
From selling his mixtape "Crenshaw" for $100 a copy to launching his Marathon Clothing line and Marathon Smart Store to opening a Fat Burger and fish market, Nipsey literally saw a bigger vision of business well beyond music.
“We’re creating an ecosystem, from production to consumption. Not only do we own the supply chain, but we can curate the experience. From the ownership of the actual master, to the retail experience and marketing the product, to consuming it. That’s the same model as Apple.” – Nipsey Hussle in discussing the Marathon Brand.
You don’t have to limit yourself to the types of projects that were near and dear to Nipsey. Do what inspires you and will benefit your community whatever that might be big or small.
Personally, I rock with the Africatown Community Land Trust here in Seattle, which works to acquire land in the Central District neighborhood and then develop affordable housing targeting those who have been displaced from the Central District due to years of systemic gentrification. The Liberty Bank Building is one of ACLT’s projects and when it opened earlier this year provided 115 low income housing units. Africatown Plaza is the next affordable housing development on the horizon, it will break ground early next year and when complete will offer 138 low income units.
So, while we remember and honor Nipsey, lets truly keep his legacy alive by picking up the baton where he left off and commit ourselves to finish the marathon he started.