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Monday January 30th

UNC students celebrate the life of rapper Nipsey Hussle

The Young Ethiopian Eritrean Tribe hosted a vigil commemorating the life of Eritrean American rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot outside of his clothing store in Los Angeles. The vigil took place on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in the Pit. Members held candles and shared poems, art and words with one another about the rapper's death and legacy.
Buy Photos The Young Ethiopian Eritrean Tribe hosted a vigil commemorating the life of Eritrean American rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot outside of his clothing store in Los Angeles. The vigil took place on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in the Pit. Members held candles and shared poems, art and words with one another about the rapper's death and legacy.

Rap music gave way to a somber silence as students gathered on Wednesday night in the Pit to hold a vigil mourning the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle. 

Born by the name of Ermias Ashgedom, the California rapper known to the world as Nipsey Hussle died after being shot outside his Los Angeles clothing store on Sunday, March 31. Blending his African heritage with the streets of inner-city Los Angeles, Hussle grew to be a respected rapper whose 2018 album Victory Lap was nominated for the Best Rap Album at this year’s Grammy Awards. 

To the students who came to pay their respects, the impact Hussle made on others matters to them just as much as the flow of his beats do. 

“I see the value that was shining through in his music as well as what he was doing in the community,” junior Yacob Laine said. “So for me, it is kind of a case of we both move in a lot of different ways trying to see how we can give back.”

The community Hussle embraced extended well past the neighborhoods of L.A. Hussle’s father is from the African country of Eritrea, a tiny and war-torn nation neighboring Ethiopia. The vigil held on Wednesday was organized by the Eritrean and Ethiopian Tribe, a student group made to celebrate Eritrean and Ethiopian culture.

For Ruth Fetaw, a health policy management major of Eritrean descent, Hussle’s life made a huge impact for a country with approximately half the population of North Carolina.

“He kind of just shined a light on this invisible country that no one really knew about,” Fetaw said. 

While Hussle may no longer be on this earth, his presence can still be felt in Los Angeles and beyond. Hussle was known for giving back to the South L.A. community, once gifting a pair of shoes to every student at a local elementary school.

Speaking at the vigil, UNC student Kat Tan had trouble holding back the emotion in her voice. Tan is a spoken word poet, a type of poet who uses elements of rhyme and improvisation to connect with an audience, and spoke of her appreciation for Hussle's humbleness. 

“He never forgot where he came from, and I think that should be celebrated,” Tan said. “I think I wanted to write a radical poem about a Black man who lived and who changed the world.”

During the inaugural Dreamville Music Festival held last weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina native and rap star J. Cole honored the memory of Hussle by singing his "Love Yourz" single while a tribute video played in the background. Earlier at the festival, rapper Big Sean held a moment of silence for Hussle as a crowd of 40,000 people came to a standstill.

Students held candles at the vigil in a sign of solidarity, lighting the night in an orange shade. Despite Hussle being a Californian, the memory of his life can be seen here in Chapel Hill through the people that he touched. 

“The reason why we are here today memorializing him is not because he died,” Tan said. “It’s not because he died, it’s not because his death was nothing. It was because of the meaning his life held.” 

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