Anyone who talked to Nipsey Hussle knew that he was wise beyond his years, and, before he was shot and killed in front of his retail store, The Marathon, in Los Angeles on Sunday (March 31), he imparted that wisdom in interviews over the course of his career.
Like his lyrics, Nip's interviews were filled with gems about the nature of money, power, success and the potential for growth even when you're coming up in a rough environment. That mindset led him to create his own businesses and stress the importance of self-reliance and ownership.
"I own my company. I own the asset of this whole industry which is your masters, your intellectual property, your publishing. I’m not in it for the fame," Nipsey said in a 2013 interview with The Breakfast Club. "Everybody wanna be seen and held at the highest regard obviously but you can’t cash that out, you can’t take that to the bank."
Nipsey applied that entrepreneurial spirit in and outside of the music industry. In 2013, he launched his #Proud2Pay initiative, in which he sold his Crenshaw project for $100. In 2017, he opened The Marathon clothing store in L.A., in addition to other businesses that included a restaurant and a barbershop.
While an outside observer might have been surprised to hear of Nipsey's many business exploits, rap fans could see bits and pieces of Nip's intelligence and natural business acumen in his many interviews.
From his music to entrepreneurship, Nipsey, born Ermias Asghedom, was a self-made success story, building an empire on his own terms. In celebration of his life, XXL takes a look at 11 times Nipsey shared words of wisdom.
Check out his memorable words below.
On MaterialismHard Knock TV (2006)
“All that is cool for the image and all of that. But all them is liabilities. You feel me? I’d rather invest in some real estate… Invest in some assets as opposed to trick off my money on some liabilities like diamonds, you know what I’m saying? Cars that lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot… a real asset, [to] take care of my peoples, because you know, it look good but at the end of the day, you losing value, homie. It ain’t appreciating, it’s depreciating... Material things ain’t nothing. You feel me? At the end of the day, it’s who you is. You wasn’t born with it, you gon’ die without it.”
The Importance of OwnershipThe Breakfast Club (Oct. 29, 2013)
“I own my company. I own the asset of this whole industry which is your masters, your intellectual property, you know what I’m saying, your publishing. So, you know, your metrics and what you gauge [as] an achievement is actually a peon, underboss way of looking at it. Because, you know like, I’m not in it for the fame. Everybody wanna be seen and held at the highest regard obviously but, you know, you can’t cash that out, you can’t take that to the bank.”
On Representing HustlersXXL (Dec. 9, 2016)
"We represent a hustler. I think we represent inspiration. I think we represent, you know, staying down. I think we represent building yourself up from the bootstraps. I think we represent one of the main core principles of hip-hop. And my brand, being Nip Hussle, being Marathon, you know, Crenshaw, they can inspire the young people that’s not connected to the resources but they see a Nip Hussle was able to find a lane and thrive to a degree and build."
On Building a Partnership With Atlantic RecordsXXL (Nov. 29, 2017)
“I wanted to raise the platform that we delivered our records on. I always wanted to operate on the highest altitude just in terms of in hip-hop and just in the music but I just, I felt like the way we went about it and the terms that we came to was really important. And [that] if we had to stay outside of the system a little bit longer to get the terms we felt we deserved we was gonna do that.”
On Never Giving UpBig Boy in the Morning (Jan. 24, 2018)
“I’m not gon’ lie and portray this ultimate poise like I been had it figured out. Nah, I just didn’t quit. That’s the only distinguishing quality from me and probably whoever else is going through this, or went through this or is gonna go through this, is I ain’t quit. I went through every emotion with tryna pursue what I’m doing, you know what I mean? And I think what’s gon’ separate whoever’s gon go for something that you ain’t gon’ quit. You really gon’ take the stance I’ma die behind what I’m gettin’ at, right now”
On IntegrityThe Breakfast Club (Feb. 21, 2018)
“Now do I tell you what to do? Nah, you get it how you live. If you like it, I love it. I just know me and mine, we gonna move this way because I’ma always stand on what I do.”
On His Trip to AfricaEbro In the Morning (Feb. 22, 2018)
“There’s me before I went and there’s me after I came back. And I came back, I was 19 when I came back, so I was still knee-deep in what was going on in L.A. when I came back. But, I had a different…You know you got those two voices? Well, this one became a lot louder. Because I couldn’t fake like I wasn’t exposed to the way things could be, you know what I’m saying? I think it led to me making decisions that brought me into music. I couldn’t just embrace the narrative of, you know, ‘This how this shit go and this what it is.’ That wasn’t reality to me no more.”
On Making Progress in MusicVeda Loca in the Morning (March 6, 2018)
“You gon’ lay in the bed you make. So, I knew that that wasn’t what I wanted as far as a final destination. So I just started taking steps toward what I was passionate about, which was the music. And doors start opening I just started seeing the results of them steps. And I just followed the positivity.”
On Speaking Things Into ExistenceNessa on Air ( June 8, 2018)
“That’s when I decided I’ma speak what I wanna see. And I started talking about business and I started speaking about opportunity and speaking about progress and optimism and I saw that come back to me also.”
On Maintaining His PowerCBS Los Angeles (Feb. 11, 2019)
“My experience with power, you can maintain it or you get it taken from you. You get you some newfound power and go crazy and it get taken from you quick. I try to just ground myself and be focused ‘cause it’s easy to fumble.”
On Developing His Musical CareerReal 92.3 LA (March 8, 2019)
“It was all progress for me, you feel me? We was still getting money at that time. We was getting rap money. So it was all progress. That was amazing to me that we can get paid off music. And it kept growing. Slowly, it was just growing. So it was like shit I’m cool. As long as it keep making progress. I ain’t on nobody else timetable. You know, this a legal, legitimate route. And we gon’ keep flipping this ‘til it grow.”