Continuing The Marathon: Thoughts On The “Minor” Flaw Of Nipsey Hussle’s Legacy

First of all, please continue to pray and reach out to Saule Wright. Like me he lost his Father this year. I want to send my condolences to Jeannee Aenise who lost her Mother. Sunday afternoon, I made it home after eating crawfish with my best friend. She was not able to make it to my Dad’s funeral and this was the first time seeing her since last summer. We chitchatted about how I’ve been feeling lately and dealing with the loss of huge importance in my life. The same thing I have been saying to myself since February 12, everything happens for a reason and there is a lesson to be learned.

I went home that Sunday after a failed attempt at getting a snowcone to wash down the 2 pounds of Mudbugs I devoured to read news on my couch that was devastating. Nipsey Hussle was shot in front of his famed store earlier. I read headlines that reported he suffered 5-6 shots and finally landed on a headline announcing his death. Immediately, I thought about how I saw the video for “Hussle In The House” and the beat just stuck in my head for weeks. From there, I stayed in the Hussle Gang following him as he struggled and failed to release his debut South Central State of Mind on Epic Records and began a prolific mixtape run with the Bullets Ain’t Got No Name series, the projects that really made me a fan, The Marathon and The Marathon Continues, as I took notice of his versatility to be able to rap over any type of production instead of beats that screamed “khakis and chuck” type beat. “Call From The Bank” is still one of my favorite instances when a rapper took control of a pop song.  You’re welcome, MGMT.

For 2013’s Crenshaw, the Hussle began to show as he sold a 1000 hard copies for $100, which post-college graduation Short-T could only support spiritually from his oldest sister’s couch as he was looking for a job. The Proud2Pay campaign was successful and showed that the young entrepreneur from Slauson Ave. had supporters and a dedicated fan base. He continued the same business initiative with 2014’s Mailbox Money by selling 100 copies for $1000. I always appreciated that these projects were always for free on mixtape sites and he did not make them exclusive to only fans with money. I also appreciated every song he released after hitting a milestone in Twitter followers to thank the fans that have been following and to welcome the new fans. Then from there, I did not keep up with Nipsey Hussle as much as I believed that he was just working on finally releasing his debut album, Victory Lap.  After years of campaigning, I thought the race was finally over as he signed a major deal and set a date for an album that was years in the making.

On January 8, 2018, Nipsey Hussle posted on his IG a picture of a group of young Black men with a caption praising them for not being any of the three negative stereotypes of Black men in the media. Not portrayed as violent/overly masculine, dead-beats/absentee Fathers, or homosexuals. Burh, really? Once again, we had a talk about the “Gay Agenda.” The agenda is to normalize seeing a Gay person, not to turn your children Gay. The post no longer exists on his page. Possibly from the backlash, but I also wondered if Nip finally understood why his words were Anti-Black. Activist, Deray McKesson tried to explain why his comment alienated a sector of Black culture that wants to see all Black people in a better light. Unfortunately, Hussle didn’t budge, doubled down on his statement tweeted that he loves all God’s children, and said that his issue is with the media portraying Black men as too feminine. He went on The Breakfast Club and delivered the “But I have Gay people in my family and work with Gays” rhetoric. It’s impossible to support a movement, but want to keep them silent and invisible at the same time. Even a year later, I still don’t think there are a lot of Gay characters on TV. Now with FX’s Pose and their breakout star, Billy Porter, what’s the count at now with Gay Black characters that I can think of? Maybe 12.

Thanks to TIDAL, everyone has had an opportunity to listen and support his music located on the front page of the Hip-Hop section’s latest albums and playlists. One particular playlist highlighted his guest verses. While listening to the song “A Million Bucks” from DJ Kay Slay’s Big Brother album in 2017, the South Central L.A. native launches a “F-Bomb” in the first 5 seconds. He said “faggot” in 2017!? I caught something I never realized before on “Who Detaches Us” from 2011’s The Marathon Continues, verse two has the lines:

I think TV is what ruins kids when homosexuals act as their influences We need community centers that teach the music biz
That way we learn to retain ownership on some Jewish shit
Don’t take your hand out, you build it it’s more lucrative
And now everything that I spoke is the truest shit
You get abused long enough, you start abusing shit
She flipped the script and now your woman calling you a bitch
You got some problems in the house that only you can fix.

I can imagine if none of this disdain existed and it was only focused on the betterment of all Black people. If allies like myself and openly LGBTQ fans like writer, Donna -Claire Chesman, didn’t have to shun every time Nipsey Hussle’s name was mentioned when he did so much community work in his neighborhood and for Los Angeles. We could have easily referenced songs, projects, and interviews by Nipsey for others to learn about being independent and not selling out for cash. I wished I could have enjoyed Victory Lap when it came out. I’m listening to his music now because I don’t think I can hold a grudge or beef with a dead man over his personal opinions. (If Kanye died, I might start listening to his music again) To see him at the Grammys with his daughter, Emani, probably would have made me shed a tear inside because I saw the struggle to finally be on that major stage with his own merits and beliefs. That moment never happened. I stopped listening and following him because it was more of the same “I want to see My people succeed, but none of that stuff that’s not in the Bible or what I didn’t respect growing up can be a representation of our people” mentality.

In the aftermath of his murder, we now have another conversation that is long overdue for a solution. When a Black person is killed or attacked, shouldn’t we all stand behind them until evidence proves otherwise? You can’t force people to feel how another person feels. The LGBTQ and its allies are free to mourn any or none at all. The same way straight, Black males are quiet when hate crimes are committed based on people’s sexual preferences.

[Sidenote: I don’t get all the “we got to do better” and “look at Hip-Hop” cries on social media in the last two weeks. Nipsey’s murder had nothing to do music and please explain to me why is it we only have to do better when one person does something horrible. I wish they screamed “We have to do better” when only one person is doing something good.]

We’ve seen murders of transwomen around the country for months without any outcries of protest because it’s an issue swept under Black people’s rugs. I thought we as a people we’re supposed to keep our house clean. I commend the men for sharing the two separate incidents who were young, Black Gay men were found dead at the home of the political fundraiser, Ed Buck. With all this I have to say thank you to Nipsey Hussle, I learned that we have to grow while we’re alive. We have to look back on the things that were said and see if we still stand behind those statements or if you see errors in your past self that you no longer wish to make. Do not hide your transitions and changes. It’s not a sprint, life is a marathon where we are running away from the ignorance we once believed before we or someone else pushes us to the finish line.