This was originally slated as a tribute on Tupac’s birthday (June 16th), but since the assassination of Nipsey Hussle, I decided to publish it now. But before you start reading please watch this video:
Tupac’s foreshadowing was short-sighted.
I don’t think when the rapper said that he would “spark the brain that would change the world,” he knew the magnitude of his affect. After the loss of Nipsey Hussle and ruminating about the two men, the notion was reinforced. The change that 2Pac spoke of is not an individual effect, its communal…. more than one brain and more than one way.
Look, a spark is never singular, some fly out further than others and some fade faster than others, but what happens when they catch onto something that’s flammable? What happens when that now flammable material is ignited? Depending on the material, a slow burn can occur, some things flare up, and sometimes its straight combustion…
When we talk about the influence (spark) of rappers, it’s usually the next generation of MCs (the slow burn). Cole. Kendrick. Meek. Nip. It’s common for us to hear younger rappers say the ones who have paved the way for them. But that spark is everywhere. It even comes in different forms.
The ink from the rapper’s pen spills over into other areas. Creatives in different fields also attribute rappers work as inspiration to their creative process or new way of thinking. A prime example is civil rights activist and poet, Nikki Giovanni. The ink from Pac’s pen poured into the ink on Nikki Giovanni’s “Thug Life” tattoo on her forearm. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was influenced by Tupac’s ideology and of the group that informed his ideology, the Black Panther Party (BPP).
The BPP ten-point plan was a list of demands to the government, but the party realized that they would not get what they requested from the government…so they strived to do it themselves and succeeded in many ways. In 2Pac’s last interview with Angie Martinez, he discussed doing work in the community and each rapper (including Pudgee Tha Phat Bastard) having baseball teams. The goal: Be a constructive collective. 2Pac’s light was snuffed out before he saw that come into fruition. Since ‘96 we have seen sparks of his light in rappers like Chance the Rapper (and basketball players, S/O to Lebron!) who create foundations, organizations, charity events and schools.
When it comes to his community, Nipsey Hussle definitely lapped many who been in the rap game for years. Nipsey attributed his hustle mentality to the likes of Puff, Jay and Master P, however, Neighborhood Nip saw “how dirty it is” in his community and decided to “clean it up” brick by brick with businesses and recreation outlets. Nipsey knew there couldn’t be growth with division and although he still repped his set, he worked with his brothers of another color like Blood rapper, YG. Everyone was welcome to Nips neighborhood on Crenshaw and Slauson. Different sparks from the same source. Watch. The lines below not only reference his impartiality to gangs, but his non-judgement to those who would be considered “thugs.”:
2Pac rapped in “F–k the World”(1995):
They wanna know if I claim the clique that I’m hangin’ with
And if I’m down with this bangin’ shit
Well homie I don’t give a f–k if you Blood or Cuz
Long as you got love for thugs
On “Dedication” featuring Kendrick Lamar, who is considered 2Pac 2.0, you hear both rappers not only reference the legendary rapper, but also his ideology and observations. To illustrate, Nip references the rose that grew from concrete and in the last line Kendrick says, Pac watchin “the way we grew” and of course that dedication out of the pavement is always a sight to behold:
Nipsey Hussle (Verse 1):
“2Pac of my generation (reference 1), blue pill in the fuckin’ Matrix
Red rose in the gray pavement (reference 2)
Young black nigga (reference 3) trapped (reference 4) and he can’t change it”
Kendrick Lamar (Verse 2):
“My ni–a L said, “You do a song with Nip, K. Dot he a better Crip”
I said, “He a man first, you hear the words out his lips
About flourishing from the streets to black businesses?”
Level four, yard livin’, given to false imprisonment
Listen close, my ni–a
It’s bigger than deuces and fours, my ni–a
Since elementary we close, my ni–a, yeah, straight like that
I give you the game, go back to the turf and give it right back
For generations, we been dealt bad hands with bad plans
Prove your dedication by hoppin’ out Grand Am’s
I’m at the premiere politickin’ with Top, Nip, and Snoop
Damn, Pac (reference 5) watchin’ the way we grew (reference 6), from dedication”
When that sparks turn into flames.
Born Ermias Asghedom, Nipsey Hussle died a revolutionary leader because he changed peoples’ worlds, he just didn’t rap about it. I know Huey, Dr. Sebi and Pac are proud. One week later and the world is still mourning the dimming of his light, but the sparks of his flame emitted forth. Currently there is a gang truce in LA. We are rethinking things while most of us show love and respect. Rappers with release dates put their album release date on pause and instead provided words of motivation and encouragement.
Writing this was cathartic and I have been sparked by Nipsey and 2Pac (but y’all knew that:-). If you are reading this you probably have too, so how are we going to change the world because the marathon continues.
Long Live Nipsey Hussle.