"Nipsey Hussle: A Celebration Of Life" is a beautiful tribute.
Nipsey Hussle's memorial, "A Celebration Of Life," is currently live-streaming from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. With the ceremony well-underway, many have already taken to the stage to mourn the late, great Neighborhood Nip. From artists like Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar to his immediate family, the letters, tributes, stories, clips, and heartfelt speeches have been numerous - a testament to his legacy as both an artist and a family man.
“I want everybody to know Nip put his heart and soul on Crenshaw and Slauson. Bro stayed and he died on Crenshaw and Slauson," closes out his brother Samuel, in an emotional yet rousing speech. Praising Nip's business acumen, Samuel opened up about his experience investing alongside Nip, and sharing a victory toast upon securing the plaza against all odds.
Nip's mother Angelique Smith and father Dawit Asghedom took to the stage together, and his mother proceeded to share some of the final text message exchanges she had with Nipsey. Explaining that he was never the most vigilant when it came to answering texts and phone calls, Angelique Smith revealed that Nipsey suddenly began communicating with increased frequency. "Hey mom. I love you," she recounts, listing some of his messages. "I'm just sending you some positive energy for your day." She continues, the emotion running high. "I feel spiritually in my soul as if Ermias was going to leave. I'm very proud of my son." You can watch some more of her speech below.
Another powerful moment arose when Lauren London's son Cameron Carter took to the stage with his family, and spoke rather eloquently about his relationship with Nipsey. "On the night of April 2nd, I had a dream I was in a paradise," said Cameron. "I was in paradise and I was playing in the ocean water when Ermias popped up right behind me. He said 'Waddup killa,' cause that's my nickname to him. I turned around and I yelled his name and I gave him a hug. Shortly, he was gone but it was still cool, I guess. I told my mom about the dream and after I told her, I was thinking about it and I realized that Ermias told me what heaven was like. He told me it was paradise." He proceeded to close out his speech with an adorable, crowd-assisted chant of "Respect!"
Nipsey's girlfriend Lauren London opened her speech by reading the text message included on the program. "Never was I prepared for anything like this, so bear with me," she begins. "Ermias was asleep one time, and I was watching him, because I used to love watching him sleep. I wrote him a text when he was sleeping, so when he woke up he could read it. I'm going to share with you that text."
"Ermias, I want you to know that I feel real joy in my heart when I'm around you. I feel safe around you. Protected. Like a shield over me when you're around. I'm totally myself when I'm with you, which is probably annoying cause I don't wear my cool mask anymore," she continues, her voice thick with emotion. "You've made me into more of a woman. You’ve given me an opportunity to really love a man. You’ve been with me while I’ve been sick. Through my fears. U have encouraged me, and inspired me to reach higher. I’ve learned so much more about myself with you."
London continues, staying composed throughout, as she reflects on Nipsey's role as a father to his children. "My pain is for my 2-year-old who probably won't remember how much his dad loved him," she says, a tear-jerking reflection. In a powerful continuation of Nipsey's favored musical themes, Lauren concludes her eulogy with a powerful declaration: "And until we meet again...THE MARATHON CONTINUES!"
Many prominent artistic voices and public figures also contributed messages to the event program, including some from Barack Obama and Kendrick Lamar. The latter penned a heartfelt reflection on his early years, which found him crossing paths with Nipsey Hussle back in 2009. The letter, which was included within the order of service (and made available by TMZ), can be read below:
In 2009, I remember trekking cities alongside Nipsey and family. Both performing as opening acts on The Game LAX Tour. Our sprinter van trailed their mobile home from state to state.
Though I was a there as support for my brother Jay Rock, Nipsey greeted me as one of his own. And that was very commendable. Casually I would go out to the crowd and listen to the substance he spewed on stage. Thinking to myself, this is the type of talent I want to be apart of. His charisma and way with words was powerful. But his integrity as a person, made me even more enthused.
I watched a young, ambitious black male orchestrate fellowship amongst the men around him on that tour. Determined to execute one thing — and that was Greatness. Greatness in knowledge, greatness in wealth, and greatness in self. My curiosity about who he really was started to grow from that moment in time. Was he a product if Crenshaw and Slauson? Was he a radical? Or was he a thinker? That mystique kept me engaged throughout his life career. The years progressed, and my admiration grew from up close and from afar. Watching his interviews, his philosophies, and his work amongst the black community.
Time surely revealed itself. I realized Nipsey was all of those perspectives. But most importantly, he was a vessel from God. As my heart aches for him and his family. I understand that the Most High doesn’t make mistakes. I pray that Ermias Foundation continues to blossom. I pray for those who trespass against it.
A true King will be tested in adversity. To stand in fearlessness in what he believes will impact on earth, as well as in heaven. So thank you Nipsey The Radical. Nipsey The Husband. Nipsey The Friend. Nipsey The Great. And from now on, Nipsey The Messenger…... Shalom.
As the ceremony continues, YG and Mustard took the stage for a few words. "That's my brother from another color you know what I'm saying," says YG. " He was like a real big brother to me. Everytime I'm with Nipsey, we ain't talking about nothing that don't mean nothing. We talking about family, homies goals, plays we were trying to make. We got some light-skinned pretty girls we trying to raise, we in trouble n***a!"
With the event still ongoing, there remains much to unpack, and many tributes to take in. Yet it's clear that the love for Nipsey remains strong, and we can only hope that those standing behind him will continue to honor his name, by helping to bring forth the vision he brought to the table. Rest in Peace, Nipsey Hussle, and prayers go out to everyone who made the Celebration Of Life one to remember.