(FOX 11) - A local and now international rap star is giving back to his community in South Los Angeles in a big way that is giving his family, fans and community hope and motivation.
Nipsey Hussle completed seven mixtapes, a chart-topping studio album and has made a lot of money.
Now, his lifelong grind is paying off so that the 33-year-old rapper can pay it forward to the place he calls home – Crenshaw.
“My career started right here,” he told FOX 11 reporter Leah Uko. “This community put me on.”
Nipsey, whose birth name is Ermias Asghedom, grew up in South LA during the 1990s when millennials like him were exposed to gang culture, but also technology and west coast Hip Hop.
So he turned his passion and talent into multiple business ventures.
Nipsey started in this parking lot on the corner of Slauson and Crenshaw streets. He would sell his unsigned mixtapes out of the trunk of his car.
Today, he owns half the lot and half the businesses on it, including a basic needs store, incoming barbershop and seafood restaurant and The Marathon Clothing Store, which not only sells the rapper’s label, but let’s visitor use an app to enhance their shopping experience.
Nipsey’s goal is to leave a legacy and financial stability for his child daughter and son.
“We playing the long game. We don’t want the money to stop when we go. When we can’t work no more. We want it to outlive us, we want it to be generational,” he said.
But he know business ventures are just part of the change. For deep, long-term change, he’s starting with kids at 59th Street Elementary. He’d often play basketball as a child on the court, which is located in an area plagued by violence.
“I think it’s just about offering a new identity. Like it is, um, it’s not weak to be strong. It ain’t weak to make smart moves.”
“I call it ‘dropping the rope’. You’ve got to drop a rope. Everybody got to climb up, but you gotta drop the rope.”
And in an attempt to attract entrepreneurs to the Crenshaw District, Nipsey’s latest business venture is Vector 90 – a co-working space.
Community Manager, Desha Greene said the business is unique to the area.
“It’s very important that co-working spaces or spaces like this exist in communities like this for people of color where we can have resources and spaces to work. And to network and to meet with people and collaborate with people.”
So for a little boy from Crenshaw who started with nothing, Nipsey has given everything to his neighborhood, including hope, opportunity, inspiration and resources to grind and succeed.
“It’s cliché to say, work hard, don’t quit. I would really say find yourself and find what’s your, what’s the motivating force behind you? And build around that.”