Hussle & Motivate - An Artist’s Connection with a Young Innovator

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Ermias Joseph Asghedom

AKA

Nipsey Hussle

August 15, 1985 - March 31, 2019

Nashawn Chery is the co-founder of our very own Push Playlists, and currently a senior at Morehouse College. With his extensive background interning at several technology companies, Twitter, Google, and Apple, Chery is positioning himself to be a serious catalyst in the space of innovation. An altruistic individual, he also helped raise over $8k through the College Charity Run for issues facing the African American community. Read on to discover how Ermias Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle, inspired his trailblazing journey.

Instagram: @Cereza_papi

So where'd you first hear about Nipsey Hussle?

It was The Marathon Continues (TMC). TMC was the first tape I listened to, and it immediately grabbed my attention. It was the messages he delivered in his songs, it was just different. Then the song that really boosted Nipsey into my top 5 was “Love” off of The Marathon. It’s still one of the most inspiring songs for me to this day.

What is it about Love that's so special?

I think it’s a soundtrack to life. This song is phenomenal for the moment when things aren’t going your way and you probably want to quit and give up. He says, “I'm out here on my mission and I'm all alone. I'm far from where I'm going, but I'm far from home, somehow I know I’m moving in the right direction, My momma always told me that I'm gonna be special.”

Like I embarked on this journey with no roadmap and I'm somewhere stuck in the middle of this. I know where I want to arrive, but I have no idea how to get there. But the thing is, I made the first step to begin the journey of reaching this goal or dream and I’m by default moving in the right direction.

His analogy of the journey life being a marathon is a great comparison. Like you have where you are now, then you got this place where are you trying to go. In the middle is this space where sometimes things may be going well, other times not so much. For anything worthy, there's going to be ups and downs and trials and tribulation, but the marathon is a reminder that it's just a journey and keep going.

How'd you feel when he passed away?

This news is something I will never move on from, and this pain will never fully go away. Since my high school days, if I were to give you a list of people who inspired me the most, Nipsey would’ve been at the top. It was on “Who Detached us” that I discovered who Steve Jobs was, which was the spark that ignited my interest in technology. On all fronts, from the pride he walked with, his longing for knowledge and understanding to elevate his life and others, to the way he valued his relationships, he was a stand-up man who I’ve always looked to. Absolutely no one deserves to be taken in such a tasteless way, especially not him. Yet, I’ve come to realize he understood he was an anomaly. Considering his background and the number of friends and family he had to witness be buried, I believe he had no fear of this inevitable phenomenon called death. Therefore, the same way he internalized the death of his homie Fatts on “Racks in the Middle”, I will do the same “Live your [my] life and grow”.

Nipsey Hussle’s Rap Radar Podcast

How do you use him as inspiration now? You probably don’t know his personal mission in life, but what're your plans that align with the way that he moved?

Yeah. I mean something that people may not know, he’s mentioned in an interview that Crip, stood for Community Restoration in Progress. Of course, cripping has its bad aspects to it, but by being a part of that organization, he really embodied that message of community redevelopment.

From all the things he was doing, it was evident that he literally took that to heart and he internalized that. From purchasing the plaza where he used hustle, sold cds in front of, got locked up in front of, and now converting it to a place where he could sell the clothing from his brand The Marathon Clothing, lease units to other local business owners, and build a mini ecosystem within this neighborhood that he grew up in. He also has the inner-city co-working space he helped develop now known as Vector90, and Too Big To Fail, a science, technology, engineering, and math center right underneath. Then on top of that, he was working on a 100-unit residential building for lower income households. These are just some of the things that he literally could’ve done anywhere else, but he chose to do it in his neighborhood to redevelop the area. The fact that he ended up being murdered in the same neighborhood is ironic, and forces you to ask the question “Will you be willing to die for what you’re doing and what you believe in ?” And if the answer is no, then you might have to change some things.

If you had the chance to speak to Nipsey, what would you say to him? I know how important a figure he was. I didn't really know that he introduced you to Steve Jobs. Like I knew about Steve Jobs for such a long time, just being in the area that I'm from, but I didn't know how other people were introduced to them. So I thought it was pretty interesting that this guy, from this completely adjacent industry(music), which to the public can be viewed as culturally siloed, especially hip-hop, enlightened you to someone like Steve Jobs who's leagues apart from him and his world.

And it just goes back to the desire for understanding and knowledge he had. He's put me on to just so many different people from like Don Peebles, a successful black real estate developer, to even some of the stuff that the Master P has done in the past with how he build No Limit Records. But, yeah back on TMC, one of the first bodies of work that introduced me to Nipsey, he had a song on there called “Who Detached Us.” At the end of the song, there was a quote that went “death is a destination we all share. And that is as it should be. Because death is the single best inventions of life. It clears out the old to make way for the new, and right now, the new is you. And someday not too long from now, you’ll be gradually be cleared away. Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become, everything else is secondary.”

Nipsey Hussle’s Hard Knock TV

I remember listening like wtf, who is this person ?? The track said featuring Steve Jobs and I was like “Who is that?” I started researching, watched the entire Stanford commencement speech and was completely moved. I did a deep dive into this guy's life and how he build this thing called Apple. Then from that point, I was just like completely inspired by the things that were possible in this technology space. The concept that with the knowledge of how to type words into this program, I can literally create something that can affect somebody's life all the way on the other side of the world. It was mind-blowing to me. So from there, I thought to myself, well, “what can I do right now?” I'm a big believer in just doing things, then seeing what could happen out of it. So I was working at a grocery store at the time and I posed the question “what if, I could walk into a store, scan a barcode using my phone, then go through the entire checkout process, all on my phone and completely absolving the need for a cashier.”

So I went for it. I had no idea what I was doing. No clue. It was just through Googling things and piecing it together I was able to make some progress. This was a project that was ongoing until I got into college and that was just my introduction into the space of technology. And the craziest thing is now I’m graduating Morehouse, and I’m about to work for Apple as an engineer. It came all the way full circle, which is pretty unbelievable.

If I had the opportunity to meet Nip, I would first and foremost show gratitude and appreciation for the inspiration that he's had on my life and I would definitely tell him that story. Then, of course, I would just sit there and to try to get as much knowledge as I possibly could from him. Some of his lessons in real estate, something I'm looking into doing in the near future. Get his perspective on the music industry. From an independent artist establishing his label and how he was able to strategically structure deals with certain labels to get even more exposure and resources in order to create great bodies of work like Victory Lap, all without giving up ownership. What was his mentality on that? What would he recommend to other entrepreneurs and artists?

A picture of Nipsey Hussle’s whiteboard.

A picture of Nipsey Hussle’s whiteboard.

I’d talk to him about The Marathon Clothing. Then just take it back to his story. Taking it from the top and ask him about the early days, his decision to join the Crips. I would literally just sit there and just like trying to soak up as much as I could. And then finally, talk about how he valued relationships and reputation. The overwhelmingly positive effect he had on others and the fact that very few people, none that I’ve heard, talk bad about him speaks volumes to his character. All of it is super inspiring.