Nipsey Hussle’s Eritrean Roots

Nipsey Hustle was born Airmeiess “Ermias” Joseph Asghedom in the Crenshaw district of South Los Angeles, California on August 15th, 1985. His mother Angelique Smith, an African American woman from L.A., and father Dawit Asghedom, an Eritrean immigrant, are alive and currently live in L.A.

Eritrea is a former Italian colony and now exists as an East African country within the Horn of Africa. Following World War II, Eritrea was becoming occupied by neighboring Ethiopia, eventually falling into war. Between 1961 and 1991, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans sought refuge in places around the world including North America, Europe, and the Middle East. His father Dawit, was one of many to arrive in L.A. in the 1970s.

In 2004, Nipsey Hustle used money he earned hustling on the streets of South Los Angeles and planned a trip to his father’s homeland to reconnect with his family. Within his three months spent in Eritrea, his life was completely changed. He went from a young man deep in gang culture to a community activist who went on to create music with big names such as Drake, Y.G., and Snoop Dogg.

Preceding his breakthrough success with the album ‘Victory Lap‘ in 2018, the piece was nominated at the Grammy Awards for the best rap album in February 2019.

Soon after on March 31st, 2019, Nipsey was tragically murdered outside of a clothing store he owned called Marathon Clothing. It is suspected that his murderer was not someone affiliated with the Crips gang, but instead someone with a personal grudge against Nipsey Hussle.

Hussle was 33 years young when he died. After his death, people around the world came together to celebrate and honor his life. Blood and Crip gangs in L.A., Compton, Watts, and Inglewood called a truce to honor his memory. In cities from Washington, D.C., to Portland, individuals belonging to the African diaspora held candlelight vigils in his name.

Nipsey has made music that reflects his pride in his roots and awareness of his connectivity to his background. His Grammy award-winning song “Higher”, potentially the last song the rapper recorded before he passed, chronicled his family’s journey in America.

According to Nipsey:

“The history of our country, our struggle and the underdog story, the resilience of the people, and our integrity is something that I feel pride in being attached to”

Nipsey’s real name, Ermias, is very popular in Ethiopia and means “God will rise”. I think that his name signals the potential that his legacy will outshine his life and his impact will be forever remembered.

Nipsey in Eritrea in 2018

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