A brother. A friend. A protector. A father. A leader. A hometown hero. A motivator. A king.
Those are all words that have been used to describe the late Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom to Angelique Smith and Dawit Asghedom.
Thousands descended upon The Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 11, 2019 to honor the slain rapper who touched lives worldwide with his music, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.
Minister Reid Rich presented a scripture before a video montage of Nipsey Hussle was shown with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” playing in the background to open up the 33-year-old’s celebration of life.
While holding back tears, Marsha Ambrosius sang Mariah Carey’s “Fly Like a Bird,” which concluded Carey’s 2005 album The Emancipation of Mimi.
Former President Barack Obama sent a letter that was read by Hip-Hop blogger and entrepreneur Karen Civil, who was also a close friend of Nipsey Hussle.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gleefully spoke of the rapper, who he said loved where he was from, specifically the “Rolling 60s.” during his sermon following Civil.
Father Thomas Uwal spoke after Farrakhan.”Ermias was energetic. Ermias was full of hope. Ermias was full of life. Ermias was full of dreams,” said Uwal.”He was proud of his roots. He was proud to be Eritrean American.”
Nipsey Hussle Was a Father
Following Father Thomas Uwal’s words, Nipsey Hussle’s children, Emani, Kross, and Lauren London’s son, Kameron paid tribute alongside London and Hussle’s sister Samantha Smith.
Blue was Nipsey Hussle’s favorite color, and Kameron and Kross wore blue suits while Emani wore a white dress with a blue blazer and purse.
“On the night of April 2nd. I had a dream. I was in a paradise, and I was playing in the ocean water. And Ermias was right behind me. Ermias turned around and said, ‘What up, killa, ‘ cause that’s my nickname. Ermias told me what heaven was like. He told me it was paradise,” said Kameron before sharing an anecdote about one of Hussle’s morning routines.
“In the morning, Ermias would say ‘respect’ at the window, so on the count of three, I want everyone to yell respect,” Kameron said.
His daughter, Emani, who was also scheduled to speak, struggled to do so in front of the large crowd. She turned towards London, who tried to encourage her to say a few words, but she couldn’t do it, so her younger brother, Kross said baby gibberish into the microphone instead (he’s only two).
Wearing all blue, Jhene Aiko sang “Eternal Sunshine” from her 2014 album Souled Out. “Rest in peace Nipsey. We love you,” Aiko said before leaving the stage.
Following Aiko’s performance, a special video presentation was shown highlighting Hussle’s childhood and his first trip to his father’s home country of Eritrea.
Nipsey Hussle’s Family and Loved Ones Are Proud of His Legacy
Hussle’s mother, Angelique Smith, then took the stage. “I couldn’t write anything because every time I would start writing I would write three sentences and then I would get brain freeze,” Angelique said, wearing all white.
She then asked the audience to bear with her as she tries something new, and then called Hussle’s father to the stage to stand alongside her.
“We don’t need to look to the sky for God. God is within. I have perfect peace. I am happy. I am complete. I am strong. And if I can feel this way, so can you,” Angelique said before calling upon her ancestors prior to starting her tribute.
She poured out libations to her ancestors and asked Nipsey Hussle’s ancestors to also welcome him on the other side of life.
“I wanna tell you that everything is in perfect and divine order. I want to encourage you to choose a vegan lifestyle. And to limit your use of alcoholic beverages and narcotics. I wanna tell you that we came from royalty and regality. I want to tell you that we are very loving, and kind, and a spiritual race of people,” Angelique said.
Nipsey Hussle’s mother recounted a time when her car was on fire and a young Nipsey Hussle flagged down a fire truck to put out his mother’s car’s flames.
“We are burning, but we are not destroyed,” Angelique said. “Ermias was a legacy,” Angelique continued before explaining that she and her mother knew that death was coming to their family.
“I’m very proud of my son. My son Ermias Joseph Asghedom was a great man,” Angelique said.
Samuel Asghedom, Hussle’s brother spoke after his mother.”I swear to God everything he said in the music was who he was,” Samuel said.
“If I die today I know the set proud n****,” Samuel said before explaining that that’s how Hussle thought. He then went on to explain that Hussle loved everybody and he loved where he was from.
“You made the world proud. Look at this s— bro,” Samuel said before the crowd erupting with cheering.
The Marathon Continues
Nipsey Hussle’s longtime girlfriend, Lauren London came to the stage after Hussle’s brother Samuel.
“Never was I prepared for anything like this, so bear with me y’all,” London said once on stage. “My pain is for my two-year-old that probably won’t remember how much his dad loved him.”
“Ermias always used to say that you can’t possess people that you experience them. I’m so honored and blessed that I got to experience such a man,” London said.
She then asked everyone in the audience from Los Angeles, both her and Nipsey Hussle’s hometown, to stand up.
“We lost someone very rare to us and we lost a real one, and we won’t ever be the same, but in Hussle’s words — because he used to always say this — ‘The game is going to test you. Never fold. Stay ten toes down. It’s not on you. It’s in you, and what’s in you, they can’t take away.’ And he’s in all of us. To Ermias, the love of my life. You know what it is. Grief is the final act of love. My heart hears you. I feel you everywhere. I’m so grateful that I had you. I love you beyond this earth, and until we meet again the marathon continues,” London said.
Nipsey Hussle’s sister, Samantha Smith then took the stage.
“To my brother. My protector. My guy. He thought he was my daddy and it’s okay. I just first want to say thank you for loving me unconditionally. For never judging me. For having my back always,” Samantha said.”You were and you are my superhero. You will forever be my superhero.”
Nipsey Hussle Was a Visionary Who Touched People From All Walks of Life
Also wearing all blue, Snoop Dogg, gave his love to London and to Hussle’s children.
“Every real black man needs a real black woman in his life,” said Snoop Dogg before explaining that every time he would see Hussle and London out and about they reminded him of he and his wife.
“He had vision,” said Snoop Dogg. “One thing that me and Nip had. We had that kind spirit…Nip’s mentality was stronger than a rapper that’s been in the game for 15 years.”
Snoop Dogg then shared a funny anecdote about Nipsey Hussle telling him that he needed to open up an amusement park called Doggy Land. “He had a vision for me that I didn’t have for myself,” Snoop Dogg said.
“For God so loved this world that he gave us a good Crip. The late great neighborhood Nip. Rest in peace cuz,” said Snoop Dogg before leaving the stage.
Nipsey Hussle’s close friend and collaborator YG then took the stage.
“I just wanna let bro know. I wanna congratulate bro for his legacy. Everything he did. All the game he gave me. And for the brand, he left behind…We love you, my ni**a,” YG said. “The mother f***ing marathon continues ni**a.”
Stevie Wonder then graced the stage as the final performer for Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service.
Before Stevie Wonder sang “Rocket Love,” one of Nipsey Hussle’s favorite Stevie Wonder songs, the iconic artist spoke about gun violence in the community. “We love you Nipsey,” Wonder said after concluding his performance.
Pastor Shep Crawford then eulogized the rapper and emphasized how he brought gang members, gays, straights, and people from all walks of life together.