It has been a rough couple weeks since the City of Los Angeles was rocked by the death of Nipsey Hussle. It hit me hard and I haven’t stopped thinking or talking about Nip since last Sunday’s news.
Since his passing, most media coverage eulogized him as an entertainer who just came off a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. It’s a meaningful milestone, but that description misses his most important contributions to the city. His music combined stories from the streets with thoughtful insights about personal and community wealth. But it wasn’t just talk, Nipsey was a living model for economic development in South LA.
Slauson Ave Soldier Raised
Nipsey grew up an LA native and frequently talked about Slauson Ave as a central part of his story. In fact, the LA Times did a great feature on his relationship with the street. It shaped him just liked it shaped so many others.
Slauson is my favorite street in all of Los Angeles. My appreciation for it comes from what it represents in our community. On one side, Slauson goes straight through South Central LA, an under-resourced area often overlooked for its economic potential. On the other side of Slauson you’ll find neighborhoods that represent the highest concentration of black wealth in the entire country (Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, View Park, etc). Slauson is the only street in LA that connects all those communities.
I grew up right off Slauson so it has always been clear to me how those communities are inextricably linked. The people who lived off Slauson, both east and west of Crenshaw, held a lot of the same values and ambitions, but not the same access or opportunity. Nipsey’s success was so indicative of what can come from the area when you combine unique talents and dedication with a desire to serve your own community.
Ain’t really trip off the credit, I just paid all of my dues
Nipsey was creating new businesses, buying local businesses, and partnering on a couple of game-changing efforts. His understanding of ownership started with the music, where Nipsey passed on seemingly lucrative record label deals because he decided it was important to retain ownership of all of his masters. Today this decision is paying off many times over, because his music has risen to the top of the charts…