By BLACK ENTERPRISE Editors
It may be the millennial generation’s Tupac moment—the untimely death of rap star Nipsey Hussle. While the 33-year-old rapper, whose real name was Ermias Davidson Asghedom, did not live long enough to achieve the legendary musical catalog of Tupac Shakur—his death, as with Shakur’s—will mark a sad milestone in the lives of younger hip-hop fans and the music industry.
There are parallels between the two artists. Both used their fame as platforms to fight injustice. Both rose from hard street lives to become stars in the entertainment industry. And both would become victims of the type of gun violence from which their fame and success could not serve as shields.
Yet, as with many of his generation, Nipsey Hussle saw the value of entrepreneurship and legacy wealth-building as a way of empowering the black community.
HOW NIPSEY HUSSLE LEFT A LEGACY OF WEALTH-BUILDING
A technology enthusiast, Hussle was intent on disrupting both the music and technology industries, one venture at a time.
“In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,’” he said in an interview with The LA Times. “And that’s cool, but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.”
That keen understanding of the power of technology to build wealth and enact change sparked the idea for his retail store and brand, The Marathon Clothing. The first “smart store” of its kind, it offers customers an enhanced online as well as physical shopping experience through a custom app.
“This is just taking the retail space to the next level and also, offering a different experience when you come here as opposed to buying it online,” he said in an interview last year with Black Enterprise.
Iddris Sandu was a partner of Nipsey Hussle’s in The Marathon Clothing store venture. He spoke about the vision he and Hussle had for the store and why technology was so important to both of them.
“Tech companies don’t allow the culture to thrive by thinking that they have the best service and that culture benefits from the technology. The culture doesn’t work for the tech, the tech works for the culture. By honoring and respecting this, one can achieve a high level of success in arbitrating both of these fields to create unparalleled experiences,” said Sandu at the time.
The Marathon Clothing is located in the heart of the Crenshaw District, where Hussle grew up. The store would also, unfortunately, become the location where his life abruptly ended.
The Grammy-nominated artist also invested in cryptocurrency, real estate, and had recently opened Vector 90, a co-working space and incubator that also served as a STEM center for youth.
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