Nipsey Hussle: Grammy-nominated rapper shot dead in LA

Rapper Nipsey Hussle, who has been shot dead

Mayor says city is ‘hurt deeply each time a young life is lost to senseless gun violence’, as Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna and LeBron James pay tribute to 33-year-old

The Grammy-nominated rapper and community activist Nipsey Hussle has been shot dead outside his Los Angeles clothing store, aged 33.

Three men were shot on Sunday outside Marathon Clothing, and one of them was later declared dead in hospital, said police, without revealing the identity of the victim.

The LA Times and NBC quoted police sources as saying the victim was Hussle. The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti tweeted: “Our hearts are with the loved ones of Nipsey Hussle and everyone touched by this awful tragedy. LA is hurt deeply each time a young life is lost to senseless gun violence. My Crisis Response Team is assisting the families coping with shock and grief.”

Police said the other two men were in a stable condition. The gunman fled, and no arrests have been made. “At this point, we’re not even sure as to whether he walked up, rode a bicycle or drove up in a car,” said LA police lieutenant Chris Ramirez.

Just hours before his death, Hussle tweeted: “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”

Major US stars have paid tribute. Rihanna tweeted: “This doesn’t make any sense! My spirit is shaken by this! Dear God may His spirit Rest In Peace and May You grant divine comfort to all his loved ones!” Drake wrote: “You were having the best run … you were a real one to your people and to the rest of us.”

During a concert in Buenos Aires, Kendrick Lamar, who also hails from south LA and had collaborated with Hussle, described him as “our brother, our warrior, our soldier”, and led a moment of silence among the crowd.

Hussle had recently recorded with DJ Khaled, and had posted footage from a music video they were making together. Khaled wrote on Instagram that Hussle was “a great man … an inspiration to the whole world”. J Cole, Meek Mill, Vince Staples, and Chance the Rapper were among the other rappers paying tribute.

Hussle was a supporter of the LA Lakers basketball team, who posted a tribute online reading: “Artist. Activist. Angeleno. LA mourns the loss of one of our own, Nipsey Hussle.”

The star Lakers player LeBron James wrote on Instagram: “Just spoke with you the other day on text bro! Telling you how proud I was of you and how I was gone get you to more Laker games next season. Been a stand up dude from day 1. May you rest in paradise … this one hurts big time!” Another NBA star, Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry, wrote: “Just got to know you! Rest in paradise.”

Hussle was celebrated for his gritty, socially conscious lyricism, and was nominated for best rap album at this year’s Grammy awards. Born Ermias Davidson Asghedom in south Los Angeles in 1985 to an Eritrean father and American mother, he was a member of the Crips gang Rollin 60s as a young man. “It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it,” he told the LA Times in 2018 of his time with the gang. “I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think LA suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”

His rap career began in the mid-2000s, making early collaborations with Drake and Snoop Dogg and getting signed to Epic Records. The major label deal was an unhappy one and led to an album being indefinitely shelved, and he didn’t release his debut album, Victory Lap, until 2018. It reached No 4 in the US charts, and features collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Diddy and YG.

Another YG collaboration, FDT, became perhaps his most famous track: a withering attack on the US president with the chorus, “Fuck Donald Trump.” He also released a series of acclaimed mixtapes, including The Marathon (2010) and Crenshaw (2013). The 2014 mixtape Mailbox Money was available free online, but physical copies cost $1,000 each.

Hussle invested in community projects in Los Angeles, including a co-working space called Vector90 that hosts entrepreneurs in Crenshaw. It includes a programme called Too Big to Fail, designed to help local people train in science, technology, engineering and maths. Hussle described it as a “bridge between Silicon Valley and the inner city” and had intended to create a national network of centres.

Hussle was also working on Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3-mile open air museum in the Crenshaw district, featuring free open-air art installations.

American footballer and activist Colin Kaepernick paid tribute to Hussle’s community work, writing: “This is so painful! Nipsey Hussle was doing great work for the people. Keep his legacy alive by carrying on his work!”

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