A Letter to Nipsey

Prince Williams/Getty Images

Prince Williams/Getty Images

In my 28 years on this earth, I’ve never been the type to cry over a celebrity’s death. I managed to handle losing icons like Michael or Mac, but for the most part I’ve learned to come to grips with death simply because it’s apart of life.

That all changed March 31st, 2019. The day you died.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in the middle of a recording when I saw a picture of your body laying on the ground. It made me sick. All I could do was pray, and wish the best for you, but God had other plans for you.

Your death tore the entire team up. I found myself locked in a bathroom shedding tears, something I had never done before. It felt like I lost an old mentor, someone who along the way felt like family. Your music got me through some of the toughest times in my life and helped shape the man I am today. I remember when Hussle in the House dropped in 2009; I was so intrigued by the energy you spread on that record, reminiscent of another West Coast legend in the homie Snoop.

You followed up with The Marathon the very next year, which played a pivotal role in my college years, as did most music released during the Blog era. The one that most stood out in my most was Bigger Than Life, the hidden track at the end of the tape. At the time, I couldn’t completely comprehend your message, but I understood it came from a place of sincerity. Your music suddenly had new meaning to me, and from that day on it played a tremendous role in my transition into an adult.

I was there for your coming out party, the infamous Crenshaw tape. I was fresh out of college working for my mom’s while starting my first freelance gig with Elite Daily. We were all nuts when you announced your Proud to Pay campaign, charging $100 for one of 1,000 physical copies of the album while the digital release was free to download. It was so unique and out of the ordinary that I wasn’t sure what to expect, but you stuck with your guns and sure enough, you sold every unit in less than 24 hours. Even Jay saw the vision and bought 100 copies in support. It just goes to show that real recognizes real.

Your music was an inspiration to black creatives and kept us going through this Marathon we call life. You gave us the blueprint, told us to trust in our own process and have the upmost faith in our vision. In your abbreviated lifetime, you shaped yourself into the example of what a strong, wise, powerful black man is supposed to be, and for that I am forever grateful for you. It’s painful that you were taken from us so soon, especially considering you were in the prime of your career after your Grammy nom for Victory Lap.

Above all else, your focus stayed on building up your community - through your words and your actions - and making the world a better place for your family. God bless Lauren and your blended family, and surround them with love. You may no longer be here in the physical, but your spirit lives on forever. Your legacy will not die. We will make sure of that. Now more than ever, it’s up to us to take the mantle and lead the revolution you started.

The Marathon continues for us, and we’re going to hold you down by picking up where you left off.

Long Live Neighborhood Nip.