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'10 Toes Down': How Fans Carry On Nipsey Hussle's Legacy One Year After His Death

One year after his death, fans of Nipsey Hussle are honoring the rapper's legacy by turning his motivational words into actions.
One year after his death, fans of Nipsey Hussle are honoring the rapper's legacy by turning his motivational words into actions.

Death in hip-hop can feel so commonplace that sometimes, we're desensitized to it. A trending topic for the day, a bump in streaming numbers, some kind words about the artist's music and then, we move on. But in the case of Nipsey Hussle, his impact since his 2019 death feels different.

A year ago this week, the city of Los Angeles said goodbye to the rapper and community advocate, who was killed on March 31, 2019, at his storefront, The Marathon Clothing, in the same neighborhood where he grew up. The artist's massive public remembrance at Staples Center was followed by a 25-mile funeral procession through the city that attracted thousands of people.

Hussle's music, and the movement behind it, centered around uplifting his community. In the year since his passing, the 33-year-old's initiatives for affordable housing, revitalization investments and STEM programs in his native South Central LA have been spotlighted. Hussle's thirst for knowledge has inspired the formation of pop-up book clubs around the country that read and dissect the same texts that Hussle did during his life.

And, of course, the rapper's motivational music is still the centerpiece of his movement. At the 2020 Grammy Awards, Hussle's rap collaborators honored him with an on-air tribute performance and Hussle was awarded awards in two categories, best rap performance and best rap/sung performance.

But with plans for community gatherings similar to the Staples Center moment being scrapped this year due to the coronavirus and social gathering concerns, fans convened on social media to pay their respects. I asked fans online to share what Hussle's legacy means to them. As I heard from voices across the country, even in death, Hussle inspires people to put actions behind their goals in order to achieve them.

"I started reading more books about investing," Alan Douglas says from Seattle. "I've also just started learning to code in a boot camp to do some web development."

"Nipsey always taught us if there's something that you want to do, you go after it all money in, 10 toes down," Calkie Fisseha from Springfield, Va., explains. Fisseha says Nipsey inspired her to pursue a law degree and she's planning to become an intellectual property lawyer to help artists. "I'm studying for the LSAT and sometimes I want to give up, but I have to realize that this is just the beginning of my marathon."

Brett Tyler from Miami says that Nipsey's slogan, "the marathon continues" has become a personal mantra of motivation for him.

"The biggest thing I learned from Nip was literally just keep going and to not stop," Tyler says. "And that's still with me today. Like, even in trying times like now, it's like the world is in panic, but we gotta keep going. The marathon continues."

It's a message of resilience that we could all benefit from right now.

What has Nipsey Hussle inspired you to do? Leave a voicemail at 202-403-0385 or send a voice memo to storylab@npr.org. Your answer may be used in an upcoming story.

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