Thursday (April 11) in Los Angeles saw over 20,000 people gathered at the Staples Center to pay their respects to GRAMMY-nominated rapper, businessman, and activist Nipsey Hussle one last time.
The late rapper, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was fatally shot outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles on March 31st. Following news of his death, stars and fans have shared touching tributes on social media.
A memorial service was held for the rhymesmith on Thursday, and featured performances by 1500 Or Nothin’, Marsha Ambrosius, Jhene Aiko, and Anthony Hamilton. Nipsey’s longtime love Lauren London, his son and his family, shared moving words about Nipsey. And Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, and Barack Obama (via a letter read by Nipsey’s friend and marketing strategist, Karen Civil) were among those who paid tribute to the late rapper. The event was attended by the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z, G-Eazy, Big Sean, Big Boy, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook, Meek Mill and more.
The late rapper’s memorial service began with a photo montage set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
Marsha sang a beautiful rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Fly Like Bird.” Anthony Hamilton gave a powerful performance of “Do You Feel Me”
Former president Barack Obama personally wrote a heartfelt letter, which was read aloud by Karen Civil.
“I’ve never met Nipsey but I’ve heard his music through my daughters,” part of the letter read. “While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood [and see violence and gangs] … Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope.”
“His choice to invest in that community rather than to ignore it … set an example for young people to follow,” the letter continued. “I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw.”
Snoop Dogg started his speech by giving his condolences to Nipsey’s family.
“I want to send love to Lauren for being a real queen to our beloved King,” he said. “If you need a hug, we’re here for you. We love you, baby girl. We always have and always will.”
“And if it so happens to be that your kids die before you, Nipsey’s mother prepared us for this day in the future,” he added.
Snoop also reminisced about watching Nipsey grow up to become the man he was.
“I still remember when he pushed up on me with his tape,” he recalled. “Nipsey’s line was, ‘Hey homie, listen to my music. Just give it a listen.’ [I said], ‘That’s it? No record deal?’ To me he had vision.”
“We ended up making music together, we created a brotherhood, a bond, something special,” he continued. “One thing me and Nip had [in common] was a kind spirit. A spirit of love. When we met each other it was like a magnet coming together.”
On Nipsey’s 2016 track, “Ocean Views,” he rapped, “Hundred-thousand in my coffin, that’s just light dough / Play a Stevie Wonder song, smoke some flight, bro.”
Stevie Wonder honored his wishes by performing “Rocket Love,” one of the rapper’s favorite Stevie Wonder songs, and Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” at the memorial. Before performing, Stevie shared his hopes that there will be changes to gun laws in America.
“It is a heartbreak to again lose a member of our family. It’s a heartbreak because it’s so unnecessary,” he said. “We, to be a civilized nation, civilized world, we are still living in a time where ego, anger, jealousy, is controlling our lives. It is so painful to know that we don’t have enough people taking a position that say, ‘Listen, we must have stronger gun laws.’ It’s unacceptable.”
“It’s almost like the world is becoming blind,” he continued. “I pray that we will grow. I pray that the leaders who have a responsibility to perpetuate life will do it by making sure that the laws will make it so very hard for people to have guns and to take their frustrations out to kill life.”
Stevie also pointed out how, in his short life, Nipsey was able to motivate people.
“I hope that it motivates us enough to say, ‘Enough of people being killed by guns and violence,'” he concluded. “I hope that we don’t just talk about it but we be about it — make a difference for our future.”
Lauren London, who Nipsey has been dating since 2013 and shares 2-year-old son Kross with, gave an emotional speech.
“Never was I prepared for anything like this,” she told the audience.
“I had to write something because I’ve never felt this type of pain before. His soul was majestic. He was the strongest man that I ever knew,” she explained. She called Nipsey the “greatest” boyfriend. “He was brilliant. He researched everything; completely self-taught and always seeking knowledge.”
“My pain is for my 2-year-old, who probably won’t remember how much his dad loved him,” she added. “I’m so honored and blessed that I got to experience such a man.”
“This pain is really ours,” Lauren said, addressing fans and the people of Los Angeles, where Nispey was a big part of the community. “We know what Nip meant to us. We lost an incredible soul. We lost a real one. We won’t ever be the same.”
“But in Hussle’s words, ‘The game is going to test you, never fold,” she added. “What’s in you, they can’t take away, and he’s in all of us.”
Lauren’s nine-year-old son, Cameron, also shared a recent dream he had about Nipsey. “On the night of April 2 I had a dream I was in paradise and I was playing in the ocean water [when behind me] I saw Ermias … He said, ‘Whaddup killa? Cuz that’s my nickname to him,” Cameron shared. “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.”
The young man also shared an anecdote about a ritual he and Nipsey had. “In the morning Ermias would say ‘respect’ at my window – so on the count of three I want everyone to yell ‘RESPECT!’,” which the crowd yelled thunderously.
The memorial concluded with a 25-mile procession that began from the Staples Center to Nipsey’s final resting place – Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Rest in love, Nipsey Hussle.