When It Hurts So Bad: Nipsey Hussle, A Parable
I was standing outside a seafood restaurant, we were celebrating my youngest brother’s birthday and my phone buzzed. I didn’t look because I was happy to be with family and I was taking it all in. But my middle brother looked at me and held up his phone, his was buzzing too.
Breaking News: Three Men Shot Outside LA Store Owned By Rapper Nipsey Hussle, One Has Died Two Are Critically Injured.
About 40 minutes later we found it was Hussle as his partner Lauren called him and he was gone.
He was good.
He was doing good.
He was just getting started.
There has been a gradual sinking in my chest the last few days—and I feel like the sadness and the mourning has been hitting me in increasingly intensified waves. This one hurts, it’s weighing on me. All over social media celebrities and fans began to talk about Nipsey and do their best to honor him and lament his death. It was understood that whoever shot him was gonna get got that night, no question. But that won’t bring him back. Street justice is still injustice. Maybe enough is enough.
We hurt because the good guys aren’t supposed to die. I think that’s what is bothering so many of us. We were young kids when Afieni and Voletta lost their sons and Hip-Hop suffered that loss, but then others emerged and we understood them and they took the baton and we came to love them the same way our big cousins loved Pac and Biggie.
I've been thinking a lot and I’m writing right now because I feel like my worldview is suddenly kicking in and I am peeping the irony. Nipsey Hussle was a hood parable.
He was killed by his own at 33 years old.
He was Brutally attacked because of envy and jealousy, in front of his closest friends.
His body was marked with physical reminders of what, to him mattered most, and it laid there on the pavement in plain sight. A public execution.
He could not be deterred by hate because of what he saw on the horizon.
His name means "God Will Rise" and he carried Kross...
I am reminded of Jesus, there is a similar story reverberating in my heart. And I think my ache is coming from that echo.
It’s April, and those who share my worldview are reflecting on that story right now and preparing to celebrate what comes next…we call this forty day period Lent. During lent we think about temptation and pain and desperation and failure and brokenness--- we deliberately position ourselves to be reminded what we truly long for: a new day, a new way of life, a different reality, for something to change, for healing and for wholeness to prevail.
These were themes that Nipsey Hussle trumpeted, he pointed to them and tried to take his whole community with him as he marched toward them. If there was ever a picture of a Christ* in Crenshaw, they were given a dim but powerful reflection.
As we pray for Lauren and for his family, as we reflect on the brokenness in our community, as we attempt to stomach the sharp injustice of the loss of such a life-- let us remember our own worth, our own need and the brevity of our own days. Let us take the time to turn toward true life and respond to the Christ of Creation. Believers all over the world are doing that right now so the timing is right.
“A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Jesus said and He does not lie. Yet prophets also call God’s people to return to him. I am coupling the pain I feel over Nipsey's death with the pain I feel over my own brokenness and I am letting them both like waves move me toward light.
This is family business.
It's a parable.
She that has ears, let her hear.
He that has eyes, let him see.
May Nipsey's death and more importantly his life cause us to repent as a community, to behold and bless the dignity in one another, to speak life to each other's hearts and treat each others bodies with honor. We’ve got an opportunity to enter into mourning together, reflection together and repentance together and we’ve been issued and invitation into a deeper reality that ends in glory and peace for all of us. A story that proclaims that God Will Indeed Rise. Enemies will be scattered. Pain will Cease and Death will finally die.
Thank you Nipsey for your contribution to this world. Thanks for reminding us that life is short and motivating us to make the best of each day. We will pick up where you left off. We won’t “Take No Days Off”
Let me cut off my phone, let me get in my zone/Let me center myself, just leave a n***a alone/I be back in a few, got some rappin' to do/Got some stacking still runnin', got some lapping to do"
—Nipsey Hussle, Don't Take Day’s Off
* Christ comes from the greek word Khristos which comes from the Hebrew word Mashiach, both mean "one who is anointed for a special task" that is the purpose of the use of the word christ in reference to Nipsey and Crenshaw. It is not meant to imply that Nipsey Hussle is Christ himself or the divine Son of God.