Nipsey Hussle, Faith, & Works: How did a rapper do what Jesus called his people to do?
Matthew 8:8-10, “The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
When Jesus heard it, he marveled & said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”
Ermias Joseph Asghedom. A name that you might have heard over the past two weeks. Another young black man gunned down in the familiar fashion that so many lives before him were taken. But, why was this one so magnified in the public’s eye? Asghedom wasn’t known to the viewing public by his real name. Rap fans knew him as Nipsey Hussle. He hailed from the same streets that produced such legendary hip-hop artists as N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Xzibit, The Game, and others.
Hussle gained nationwide attention in this decade with his mixtape Crenshaw which he strategically manufactured one thousand copies of his CD, selling them at $100 a piece. The move paid dividends when Jay-Z bought one hundred copies himself, paving the way for his independent record, All Money In, to get started.
Nipsey Hussle wasn’t just a rapper. He was an entrepreneur that was steps ahead of many of his peers. Though they had the sells, he had the ownership (Hussle owns all of his masters for all his projects. A rare feat for many music artists. Extremely rare for rap artists). He opened up the world’s first “smart” store in his neighborhood of Crenshaw & Slauson, The Marathon Clothing Store, he started an initiative called Vector 90 which connected inner-city youth in L.A. to tech opportunities in Silicon Valley. Hussle also invested in Bitcoin, had plans to buy more property to fend off gentrification which has pushed out so many blacks in Southern California and had the respect of the streets and rap fans alike.
It ended on March 31. In front of all that he worked hard for. In the same neighborhood that he used to run as a member of the Rolling 60s crip gang. The same neighborhood he built back up to revitalize his community. Six shots took his life that Sunday afternoon. The news shook up the music world. Even celebrities like Lebron James, Taraji P. Henson, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, and others paid their respect to him. All who knew him said the same thing about Nipsey:
“Walked his talk.”
“He was a real one.”
“He was so authentic.”
“Did what he believed.”
I don’t know about what Nipsey Hussle believed in. One of his standout tracks, “Ocean Views,” he says, “I don’t know about hell/I don’t know about heaven…” But, from what I’ve gained from listening to so many interviews from him and from people who were close to him, Nipsey Hussle was an avid reader, an avid learner, and an avid applier of what he learned.
Interesting enough that this man who we can consider a non-believer of the Word of the Lord followed the universal concepts of the Word! He wasn’t a hearer. He was a doer. Hussle didn’t just talk about it. He sought out and executed on ways to accomplish the goals he had for himself. Nipsey Hussle was unapologetically Nipsey Hussle. What a breath of fresh air, to see a person being who they are, no matter what!
This begs the question: what’s wrong with us, The Saints? Why is it so hard for us to be as, if not more, authentic than this man? Why have we dropped the ball with being unapologetic about the Gospel no matter what? Why have we dropped the ball in the game of life when the cost is souls going to hell? Jesus wonders the same thing in the text above. He sees this centurion who has called for His help for his ailing daughter, tell him about the soldiers under who he tells to go, and they go. Come, and they come. Do this, and they do it. The Messiah marvels at the obedience of the soldiers.
“They hear, and they do.”
So many of us are called to do some great things for the Lord. Yet, we have failed at the part of our walk where we must put words in action. Yes, we pray. Shout. Dance. Speak in tongues. Yet, Jesus is still saying to his people in 2019: “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith.”
A rapper, whose tragic death at age 33, stunned an entire music world, has been lauded time and time again for his ability to hear and to do. Saints, I believe it’s time for us to do the same. If we say that we love the Lord Jesus, then let our talk match our walk. Allow our confession to be confirmed in the eyes of those around us. When we start to walk in our beliefs and not apologize for them, our Father in heaven can and will use us in the ways that he used the Apostles, Prophets, and so many others who have laid the groundwork of faith. When our faith and works combine together, the body of Christ is an unstoppable force that Satan cannot prevail against!