Rapper’s Death Leaves Void

From Carolinian Staff Reports

It’s a story we’ve heard before.

In broad daylight, on a public street, shots ring out and a young black man lies dead in the street.

In spite of photos of the crime and the man who did it, nobody saw, heard or knows anything.

But not this time.

When rapper, entrepreneur and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle was gunned down Sunday in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles, tips began pouring in to the police—on social media, over the phone and in person.

It was such an unusual turn of events that Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore tweeted, ‘‘Thank you to both our community for the heightened awareness/vigilance, and our partners at @LASDHQ,’’ where many of the tips came in.

Everybody in the community knew Hussle, and they knew his assailant as well. And before many minutes had passed, the police knew it too: Eric Holder. They knew what kind of car he was in, what its license number was and that the girl driving was his girlfriend.

It only took until Tuesday before Holder was in police custody, charged with murder and attempted murder.

What makes this case different? The man that was killed was not just a Grammy-nominated rapper, but a hero in the community. He was loved, admired and thanked by thousands in the community that he never left.

Yes, he was a gang banger. Not ‘‘former,’’ as many in the rap and hip-hop industry are. He was a member of the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips, which made his investment in the place he called home and his efforts to end the violence that had taken so many of his peers all the more authentic.

Street cred aside, there was something different about this rapper. While many give to foundations and attempt to help their former communities, Hussle never left.

His efforts in the area were many and legendary.

•He renovated a roller-skating rink, as well as basketball courts and playgrounds in the community.

•He bought shoes for local kids who couldn’t afford them.

•He paid for funerals of people in the community when their families couldn’t afford them.

•He provided shelter for the homeless and jobs for many, many others.

Then there were his cultural, educational and business investments there.

Vitally concerned with getting local kids involved in STEM subjects, he opened Vector 90, a space that gave inner-city students a chance to be exposed to science and technology.

A famous quote: ‘‘In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers.’ That’s cool, but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, Follow Zuckerberg.’’’

In addition to his Destination Crenshaw initiative, celebrating black history and achievements in Crenshaw through art and culture, he put his money where his mouth was with concrete investments in his home neighborhood.

First it was Marathon Clothing, located in a strip mall at Crenshaw and Slauson. Then a soul food restaurant. Then a barber shop and a convenience store. Before long, he owned all of the strip mall, with plans for a commercial plaza and multi-story residential space.

But that wasn’t all. He insisted that local people who needed jobs were employed at all of his businesses.

This resulted in an uncounted number of jobs in an otherwise depressed area of South Los Angeles.

He brokered peace with warring factions in the city and offered them a better way. He was even planning a meeting with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and L.A. Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, set on the day after his death.

But that came to a halt shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Sunday when a man, identified by everybody in the neighborhood as Holder, approached Hussle and two friends outside of Marathon Clothing. Words were exchanged, and he left, only to come back with a handgun and open fire.

The two men standing with Hussle were wounded, but he was dead, from a bullet to the head.

His assailant ran to a waiting car driven by a woman and drove off.

Police said that it was a personal beef between the two men,  not gang related, even though Holder was also a member of the Crips, but they declined to say what it was.

Whatever the excuse, this latest, cruelly ironic example of violence left a community deprived of a bright light of hope.

That was underlined Tuesday, when a vigil for him was sent into chaos by a person with a gun. There were several injuries, but no shootings reported

It also left a girlfriend, actress  Lauren London, and two children, Kross and Emani.

London doubtless spoke for many in the community on Tuesday when she said, in an Instagram post:

‘‘I am completely lost. I’ve lost my best friend, my sanctuary, my protector, my soul.

‘‘I’m lost without you. We are lost without you, babe. I have no words.’’ 

Funeral arrangements were still pending at press time.