When it comes to the rhymes, the culture, the community service, and intelligence, there will never be anyone quite like Nipsey. His music career, commitment to serve, and belief in ownership truly re-shaped all of our minds and what we thought we could achieve. In a new in-depth interview, the rapper’s closest friends and family shared their love and memories of Nip.
“We met through a mutual friend, like, on the phone,” Lauren London, Nipsey’s partner and the mother of son Kross, said. “Because we’re both from L.A., we had a lot of friends in common. I had a couple of homegirls that had hung out with him and would come back to me like, ‘Oh, my God! You would really like Nip! He seems like your type!'” London explained that their relationship blossomed organically through her love for his music and their hometown. ”I wasn’t dating anybody at the time, or doing any of that. We met because I wanted to pick up a box of clothes he offered me after I bought a couple [copies of] Crenshaw. I pulled up to his shop on Crenshaw and Slauson, and he was like, “You want to hang out?’”
Nipsey’s father, #Dawitasghedom, said he witnessed Hussle’s early interest in hip hop. “Whenever I would take him to the store, he used to want toys. But one time, he picked up Makaveli [Tupac Shakur’s posthumous 1996 album]. I told him, ‘No. Why do you want this?’ At the same time, deep in my head, I thought maybe it will teach him something. There was always music at my house—R&B mostly—and books. He already had good reading habits. So I changed my mind and told him, ‘I’ll buy you this one.’”
His sister, #SamanthaSmith, expressed the excitement she felt when she first heard her brother’s rhymes. “The first time I heard my brother rap, I had to be like seven. I thought it was so amazing, like, ‘My brother is going to be the next Jay-Z!’ He would go to Watts Towers Arts Center to record when he was young. I remember driving with him and my mom, dropping him off on Saturday mornings. I would sneak in his room to read his notebook with all his raps in it. I had no idea what it even meant.”
Nipsey’s family said the community always supported his music and movement. “When we first put an album out independently, he printed business cards that said ’Slauson Boy Records.’ We put up posters and paid money out of our pockets to get radio advertisements,” said Nipsey’s brother #SamielAsghedom. “He had everybody in the whole neighborhood, putting up posters and volunteering for him. The people rallied around him. It motivated him.”
London’s relationship, she said, was just “easy,” as the two shared a natural bond, a love for food and the urgency to learn more every day. “Nip was very spontaneous. He would be like, ‘Boog, let’s go out of town.’ And I’d go with him and no luggage. He was very fun in that way. He loved having fun. We’d wake up in the morning, and he’d be like, ‘Bet you won’t get on a roller coaster.’ We would literally just wash our faces, brush our teeth, put on sweats, and go to Magic Mountain, randomly, to get on a roller coaster and start the day.”
London said the last day that they were together is one that she still struggles to talk about. “I can’t talk about our last day together, and I still have to be strong for my children. I have a three-year-old that’s still asking, ‘Where is Daddy?’ He doesn’t understand the concept of death. I haven’t gotten to digest the fullness of it, because it’s overwhelming and I’m in the process of healing myself and my family. But I absolutely feel the love of the city.” London said Nipsey’s love for his people and his mission to be greater than he was the day before is a message she’ll always remember.
“Nip wasn’t just trying to make music to get money or be famous. He understood that through his music, he would be able to get his message across. And he was very big on his purpose with God. He knew who he was with God. He knew the mission that God and the purpose that God had placed on his heart,” said London. “He loved his people. He wanted us to be strong and on our own, and he really wanted to put that message in his music and in his interviews. Now when people YouTube him and go back, they’re getting reintroduced to Nip. But Nip was always on that mission.”