When it comes to the role rappers play in their own communities, it’s immense.
Some artists inspire their fans to reach for riches, Thotianas, and that new Mercedes. Other artists inspire their listeners to reach for ambition, a loyal woman, and most importantly, to reach down into the less privileged communities and lift them up. It’s the difference between 2 Live Crew and ‘Pac - the difference between Nipsey Hussle and the Migos.
Nispey Hussle was an artist dedicated to not only his craft, but to his social responsibility as well. He used his spotlight and voice to help those who had none, investing in the community around him and placing importance on personal connection, love and support.
Nipsey Hussle was different because he didn’t spout toxic masculinity - he created a new standard - to be strong, kind, and most importantly, be the best man that you can be. He’s part of a new school of rappers aiming to rise above the status quo, with a reputation of a family man prevailing over that of a playboy.
Similar rappers living out a persona of integrity rather than swagger include Swizz Beats and Chance the Rapper. They’re both married to strong women and are proud of the fact, rapping about what fulfills the soul instead of just the bank account.
It’s a refreshing new look at personalities in hip-hop that doesn’t fit the stereotype.
A lavish lifestyle will always naturally dazzle people and create an illusion of happiness, but these rappers get to the root of what really matters. It’s an honest tactic, and one that will give them years of longevity past their fad-rap competition.
They stand up for women, value family, and practice humility. They leave a legacy, like Nipsey Hussle did, after having his life taken by a coward. Maybe if we had more men like Nip who let their true potential flourish, we would have less men like Eric Holder, who unfortunately never see the potential within their own life.
Maybe the pressure of a legacy is a little much, but the lesson is clear: stay true to yourself, and you’ll be a hero to someone. Invest in the education of your community. Lift up the youths who are its future.
This is where the future of hip hop’s power lies - in its potential to do something that pacifies rather than catalyzes. In an industry full of beefs and resentment, to hold onto a positive sense of inspiration and pass it onto the next person has more power than we know.
Nip praised up and coming rappers like Roddy Rich for pushing past the lyrical rap stereotypes and finding their artists identity by pulling something deeply raw out of their own past experiences.
Maybe the key is rappers discovering their own vulnerabilities through music, thereafter fleshing out a more real identity as opposed to some 2D thug persona that White America loves to hate.
Instead, let’s humanize them through the roles they play in their lives, as fathers, husbands, and sons. Perhaps as Nipsey Hussle rests among the stars, we can pay homage to his family man persona by channelling his legacy, as we forge our own.