Celebrities have always held a certain, even special place in society. With the ease of access and the multiple social media platforms available, the celebrity culture is the biggest it has ever been. For some, celebs are looked upon as almost god-like, for others they are looked at as family. When our favorite celebs pass suddenly, there is without a doubt an outpouring of love and affection. Some real, some not but love nonetheless. The loss can be devastating for the short term while others linger in the hearts and minds forever. Especially our beloved celebs. My parents still talk about the pain and hurt they felt back on April 1st, 1984 when Marvin Gaye died. They speak of him with love and reverence as if he was my blood uncle. The same can be said for so many. It can be said about Mike, about Prince, about Biggie and about Tupac. And countless others. For those in my generation, the death of Pac was a gigantic blow to not only music and film, but to the culture itself. His music was the embodiment of so many of the trials and tribulations that we all were going through at the time. He was a superstar in every sense of the word with a larger than life personality, full of wit and charisma. Yet he felt so relatable. I honestly felt that he was or would have been one of the most influential people (not just a rapper, not just an actor) of our and the next generation, had he not been murdered. But legends live forever and he is still very much present today. But let me be honest with you all. The death of Nipsey Hussle carries more pain and influence for me than the death of Pac and Big. My eighteen year old self was wild and blind to the ways of the world only caring about myself. My only thoughts were about how I was no longer going to hear new music from them(I was really wrong about that), or see new movies from Pac. And that was it. But Nipsey’s death hit me harder and differently. Like Pac, Nipsey was a revolutionary as well. And although he was much older and less accomplished career wise, he was just as important to me as Pac. Maybe even more. Yes, I was a fan of his music, but not since the beginning like I was with the aforementioned duo. I liked Crenshaw and truly loved Victory Lap. In this case, I was more of a fan of the man himself and what he stood for, and the things he accomplished. Nipsey was a shining example of truly loving your people. He didn’t just get rich and leave. He stayed and uplifted those around him. He exemplified what it meant to be “the talented tenth”. He didn’t just rap about, he WAS about it. He preached health, black economics and generational wealth. He believed in second chances by hiring felons at his various businesses. He believed in making a way for the children by launching a STEM center for them. He also bought shoes for students, repaved basketball courts, and renovated playgrounds. He created spaces for Black creatives to thrive and survive. He was almost single handedly reviving his community. He was truly a man of the people. His people. Our people. He was the blueprint of which all of us could find something to follow. He exemplified the ideals of Sankofa and he will truly be missed. The ramifications of his death will not only be felt in his hometown and state, it will be and is felt all over the country. Maybe even the world. This was a tough loss and one I won’t soon get over. Tupac died before he could truly walk the walk, meanwhile, Nipsey was out here turning Pac’s vision into real substantive change. His death truly hurt me and will be on the same level for me as Marvin’s was for my parents….
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