Contributor Post Created with Sketch. On ‘Saint’ Nipsey Hussle, an Alternative View

 

My most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns what I believe to be the inordinate adulation shown to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle. Hussle, whose true name was Ermias Asghedom, was shot to death on March 31 outside the clothing store he owned in Los Angeles. Eric Holder (no, not that one) has been arrested and charged with murder in the case.

On April 11, Hussle’s funeral was held before an audience of 21,000 in LA’s Staples Center, making him the second person so honored. (The first was Michael Jackson; make of that what you will.) After the funeral, Hussle’s hearse led a chaotic procession on a 25-mile tour of South Los Angeles, a tour which, as I noted in the piece, scarcely passed a single block that hadn’t been the scene of at least one murder in the last 20 years. LAPD brass called the event a success when only four people were shot (one fatally) and only four police cars were vandalized.

South Los Angeles is policed by four patrol divisions within the LAPD, Southwest, 77th Street, Southeast, and Newton, and at various times in my career with the department I worked at all of these stations. It was in these assignments that I became familiar with the gang culture that prevails in the area, a culture that has sown more death and misery than I can come close to describing. I can’t possibly count all the murder scenes I went to, to say nothing of the more frequent non-fatal shootings. During my time working in South LA, I responded to at least one shooting every night and at least one murder every week. The utter waste of young life I witnessed continues to haunt me.

And yet Nipsey Hussle, who emerged from this gang culture, embraced it, profited handsomely from it, and ultimately died because of it, is hailed as a hero, even a “ghetto saint” in the words of Michael Eric Dyson, who, one presumes, should be smart enough to know better. Barack Obama sent an admiring letter to Hussle’s family. “I’d never met Nipsey Hussle,” he wrote, “but I’d heard some of his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work.”

One wonders if this song was among those Sasha and Malia Obama favored, and what Mr. Obama’s opinion might be of the message it conveys. (Warning: abundant coarse language.)

Let there be no confusion here. Mr. Obama’s sentiments notwithstanding, the only transformation Nipsey Hussle experienced was that of changing from a poor gang member to a rich one, albeit one who invested some small portion of his acquired wealth in a handful of local businesses. He never disavowed his membership in the Rollin’ 60s Neighborhood Crips, on whose hands can be found the blood of hundreds of murder victims. Indeed, in interviews and the lyrics to his music, he continued to boast of his membership in the gang right up until his death.

Local politicians displayed the same lack of moral courage. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, as spineless a man as ever drew breath, joined in the fawning praise, posting a tribute to Hussle on his Facebook page. But even worse than that, and even more insulting to the law-abiding residents of the city, especially those who live in daily fear of the Rollin’ 60 Crips, is the news that the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, near the scene of Hussle’s death, will soon be christened as Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square.

And after being so named, we’ll wait to see who has the distinction of being the first person to be murdered there.

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  1. Knotwise the Poet Member

    Read your column over at PJ Media earlier. Thought it was fantastic. I do think a lot of rap/hip hop artists are talented, but in general the music is not my cup of tea, and I do wish our society would not romanticize gangsta rap culture.

    • #1
    • April 17, 2019, at 5:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jack Dunphy: One wonders [snip] what Mr. Obama’s opinion might be

    No We don’t. 

    • #2
    • April 17, 2019, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    A tragic cherry on top of a tragic sundae. Too bad they don’t write songs about guys that grow up in the hood then get jobs as office managers. 

    • #3
    • April 17, 2019, at 6:05 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    I was contemplating the freshly painted mural on the south wall of a boxing gym in downtown Mesa, AZ, when a young man asked me if I knew who Nipsey Hustle was. I said I knew little of him. The young man replied, perhaps pegging our age difference, “he is my generation’s Tupak Shakur.”

    I have seen several gatherings in the courtyard, also a basketball court, before this mural.

    Perhaps, like “JFK,” there is a “Nipsey” largely divorced from the actual biography of the human being who was given that name.

    • #4
    • April 17, 2019, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Petty Boozswha Member

    I’m assuming his name is of Ethiopian origin, and glad his family “assimilated” so much better, at least more completely, than Ms. Omar’s. Isn’t this neighborhood where, in the 1950’s, The Beach Boys lived and grew up? Prior to multiculturalism’s blessings. 

    • #5
    • April 17, 2019, at 6:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. low key Inactive

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):

    I’m assuming his name is of Ethiopian origin, and glad his family “assimilated” so much better, at least more completely, than Ms. Omar’s. Isn’t this neighborhood where, in the 1950’s, The Beach Boys lived and grew up? Prior to multiculturalism’s blessings.

    Very close but not quite, it’s Eritrean. Fun fact, Eritrea is second only to North Korea in suppression of the press.

    • #6
    • April 17, 2019, at 6:45 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Petty Boozswha Member

    low key (View Comment):

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):

    I’m assuming his name is of Ethiopian origin, and glad his family “assimilated” so much better, at least more completely, than Ms. Omar’s. Isn’t this neighborhood where, in the 1950’s, The Beach Boys lived and grew up? Prior to multiculturalism’s blessings.

    Very close but not quite, it’s Eritrean. Fun fact, Eritrea is second only to North Korea in suppression of the press.

    Thanks, Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until a few decades ago, so close enough.

    • #7
    • April 17, 2019, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. low key Inactive

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):

    low key (View Comment):

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):

    I’m assuming his name is of Ethiopian origin, and glad his family “assimilated” so much better, at least more completely, than Ms. Omar’s. Isn’t this neighborhood where, in the 1950’s, The Beach Boys lived and grew up? Prior to multiculturalism’s blessings.

    Very close but not quite, it’s Eritrean. Fun fact, Eritrea is second only to North Korea in suppression of the press.

    Thanks, Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until a few decades ago, so close enough.

    Hey, them’s fighting words! Narcissism of small differences and whatnot. 

    • #8
    • April 17, 2019, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):
    I’m assuming his name is of Ethiopian origin,

    His father was from Eritrea.

    • #9
    • April 17, 2019, at 7:08 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    It has been a while since you posted on Ricochet. I have missed your posts. This one was certainly worth waiting for. You don’t pull any punches. There is a “culture” in the black communities that will forever keep the vast majority of those who grow up in them from ever achieving the American dream. When I hear that a wannabe like Obama can’t differentiate between what is valuable in black culture and what tends to keep the black man down, I hold very little hope that anything will change significantly in the near term. Glorifying the bandit culture was a part of Irish culture which has, thankfully. been outgrown. Its major advantage was that it never made anyone rich the way the hiphop gangsta culture does. This isn’t the white man’s problem. He didn’t cause it, and he can’t fix it, and all the left wants to do is exploit it. Aint this just wonderful!

    • #10
    • April 17, 2019, at 7:13 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  11. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy

    Want to learn more about the Rollin’ 60s? This little ditty, featuring some of Nipsey Hussle’s young proteges, sums up the gang’s ethos nicely. (Warning: more coarse language.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y344Od2oVuc

    • #11
    • April 17, 2019, at 7:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Meanwhile I saw on the news last night, that in San Rafael Calif, a bedroom community outside of San Francisco, officials are taking successful steps to re-name the Dixie school system. I wonder if anyone deciding on this is aware that Nipsy is dead, and maybe it could be re-named the Nipsy Hussle School district?

    From what I have noticed over the last 12 years, the Dixie school district is sinking, in terms of how well students score on tests. And the San Rafael HS is now a playground for gangs and drugs.

    My son graduated from San Rafael HS in 1993. It was a tremendously diverse school, with kids from some of the wealthiest areas of Marin, as well as many kids from poor neighborhoods. Thirty four languages were spoken by students in their homes. But English was insisted upon in the school itself. A great education was still possible during my son’s time there. Now parents scramble to find a way to get their youngsters in private schools.

     

     

    • #12
    • April 17, 2019, at 8:00 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    One of the great contradictions (at least apparent) of ghetto culture is the pride so many of them feel about where they are from. One would expect the opposite. But nobody writes songs about coming from Tustin. 

    • #13
    • April 17, 2019, at 8:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You look at that video (#11) and you see what happens to a youth culture that was reared without fathers. 

    • #14
    • April 17, 2019, at 8:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    I was contemplating the freshly painted mural on the south wall of a boxing gym in downtown Mesa, AZ, when a young man asked me if I knew who Nipsey Hustle was. I said I knew little of him. The young man replied, perhaps pegging our age difference, “he is my generation’s Tupak Shakur.”

    I’d never heard the name Nipsey Hustle before reading this post. Was entirely unaware of his music career and somehow also missed the news of his death and funeral.

    • #15
    • April 17, 2019, at 8:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    There is a “culture” in the black communities that will forever keep the vast majority of those who grow up in them from ever achieving the American dream.

    A rather strong claim. There is no “culture” that is “forever.” Thankfully, President Trump refuses to believe that there is any immutable “culture” in America that dooms the vast majority in any part of our country.

    • #16
    • April 17, 2019, at 8:51 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. James Lileks Contributor

    I’m still stunned that someone in 2019 had a stage name referencing a mainstay of 70s game-shows and Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. It’s like a modern country singer calling himself Mink Wartindale.

    • #17
    • April 17, 2019, at 9:28 PM PDT
    • 19 likes
  18. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    I was contemplating the freshly painted mural on the south wall of a boxing gym in downtown Mesa, AZ, when a young man asked me if I knew who Nipsey Hustle was. I said I knew little of him. The young man replied, perhaps pegging our age difference, “he is my generation’s Tupak Shakur.”

    I’d never heard the name Nipsey Hustle before reading this post. Was entirely unaware of his music career and somehow also missed the news of his death and funeral.

    You’re up north. Down here they preempted afternoon tv for the service, which seemed strange.

    I never heard of him until several months ago. 

    • #18
    • April 17, 2019, at 10:10 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Jon1979 Lincoln

    First heard of him when he was on the Grammys a couple of months ago, and I think that’s part of the reaction here, based on the idea that ‘Timing is Everything’ — including for celebrities, the timing of when you die. Being on the Grammys followed by being killed less than 60 days later allows people to project a permanent upward trajectory on Nipsey Hustle’s career, where if had he lived, he might have been only remembered because of his name’s riff on the 1960s-70s comedian.

    Dying at what may have been the peak of a person’s celebrity, especially when they die at a young age, has often in the past given that person staying power in pop culture that staying alive and fading from the spotlight would have destroyed. James Dean and Selena were past examples of that, though obviously not with the baggage of the gang connections you have in this situation.

    • #19
    • April 17, 2019, at 11:13 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    obviously not with the baggage of the gang connections you have in this situation.

    See Tupak Shakur.

    • #20
    • April 17, 2019, at 11:42 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    I’m still stunned that someone in 2019 had a stage name referencing a mainstay of 70s game-shows and Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. It’s like a modern country singer calling himself Mink Wartindale.

    Reference alert: Nipsey Russell was a beloved and delightfully charming comedian. His schtick was that he was able to compose a humorous poem on the spot.

    • #21
    • April 18, 2019, at 12:57 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    namlliT noD  

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    I’m still stunned that someone in 2019 had a stage name referencing a mainstay of 70s game-shows and Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. It’s like a modern country singer calling himself Mink Wartindale.

    Reference alert: Nipsey Russell was a beloved and delightfully charming comedian. His schtick was that he was able to compose a humorous poem on the spot.

    I got it! @jameslileks doing a podcast segue in the style of Nipsey Russell. It pretty much writes itself.

    • #22
    • April 18, 2019, at 1:04 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    Meanwhile I saw on the news last night, that in San Rafael Calif. . . 

    I have family in San Rafael. Sad to see what’s happened to the place.

    • #23
    • April 18, 2019, at 4:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Ralphie Member

    @jackdunphy, did you read “Ghettoside” and if so, what did you think of it. 

    For myself, an old white woman in a rural area, it opened up some aspects of live in LA that I hadn’t thought about. It seemed the blacks blamed the police, but at the same time did not cooperate in helping solve murders because of paybacks or their own criminal activity. It seemed that the police that worked that beat did so without the resources or support that would help rectify a situation, but perhaps, it isn’t the police problem, but a community problem. If you don’t have a legitimate skill or job, you can’t be easily relocated in a witness protection program..

    • #24
    • April 18, 2019, at 5:27 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jack Dunphy: And after being so named, we’ll wait to see who has the distinction of being the first person to be murdered there.

    Sad, but yeah, if they couldn’t make it through the funeral without a shooting . . . 

    • #25
    • April 18, 2019, at 7:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. JamesSalerno Coolidge

    Call me old-fashioned, but I’m always weary when facial tattoos are involved. Excellent piece!

    • #26
    • April 18, 2019, at 7:53 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    There is a “culture” in the black communities that will forever keep the vast majority of those who grow up in them from ever achieving the American dream.

    A rather strong claim. There is no “culture” that is “forever.” Thankfully, President Trump refuses to believe that there is any immutable “culture” in America that dooms the vast majority in any part of our country.

    I have 45 years of experience working in public schools located in largely black communities. I worked with the most difficult students in those schools and had close relationships with the parents of those kids because when you write an Individual Educational Program for a special education student you are required to involve the parent in that process. What I saw over and over again was that black students had one of two goals, professional sports or becoming Gangsta rappers. I explained to the ones who saw professional sports as a goal that there are less than 2000 professional athletes in the United States. That is people who make their sole living by playing sports which includes golfers and Tennis players. Those who make it are the cream of the cream. In all of my years of teaching I had only one student in my classes who made it into professional sports. He was 7 feet tall at a time when that was as rare as hen’s teeth, in the 1970s. He lasted one season in professional basketball before he was dumped for the same reasons he had ended up in a special education classes when an adolescent. Professional rappers and country music singers have something in common. They both seem to need some kind of history in their lives. In the case of rappers, it is usually some gang related, criminal behavior. Those without don’t seem to make the cut, so the motivation to get dirty and to admire those who do is pervasive. The content of their “music” is largely based on first hand experience.

    I don’t know much about real estate development of being a reality TV star. But I do have a pretty vast experience of working in black communties and understanding the culture there in. Donald Trump has a very limited scope of knowledge either of the black culture at the street level or, likely, the history of black people in America. What he refuses to believe or believes, like so much of what he has to say, has little to do with reality. Believing something doesn’t make it so. He has done some good things, many more than I thought he would, but changing the culture of the black community is way beyond his limited understanding. In this regard, other than providing more jobs for those who want them, he will have little effect on the communities themselves or their culture.

    • #27
    • April 18, 2019, at 12:03 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    There is a “culture” in the black communities that will forever keep the vast majority of those who grow up in them from ever achieving the American dream.

    A rather strong claim. There is no “culture” that is “forever.” Thankfully, President Trump refuses to believe that there is any immutable “culture” in America that dooms the vast majority in any part of our country.

    Okay, maybe the gang culture now running rampant in America is not forever. But it is a most insidious affair.

    If you ever have the time for a most disturbing and truthful read, take a gander at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31364.What_Came_Before_He_Shot_Her

    The author is Elizabeth George. This book is her attempt to pull the blinders off all of us who don’t live in neighborhoods where there has been a murder or a rape on every city block. She was successful as an author long before she attempted this book. (She is responsible for the “Lynley” series shown on PBS.)

    She met resistance from people inside publishing who didn’t want her to deviate from her standard fare, which is rather light reading about police procedure when compared to this expose. Even the most grisly murder mystery she had penned previously does not leave a person sleepless as this “What Came Before” novel does.

    If our inner city youth find out by the age of twelve that the only way to survive is to join either Gang A or Gang B, how do we get out of this mess?

    • #28
    • April 18, 2019, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    but changing the culture of the black community is way beyond his limited understanding.

    Obama was in the best possible position to try this. He punted.

    • #29
    • April 18, 2019, at 1:14 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Want to learn more about the Rollin’ 60s? This little ditty, featuring some of Nipsey Hussle’s young proteges, sums up the gang’s ethos nicely. (Warning: more coarse language.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y344Od2oVuc

    Jack,

    What an unbelievable waste of time Obama was. He could have set the tone, set a standard of behavior that should never be transgressed for Black youth. Instead, he actually played to the criminal culture making it much worse in the long run. Truly President Zero.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30
    • April 18, 2019, at 1:17 PM PDT
    • 1 like

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