After some reported ticketing delays at the door, the public memorial service for the late Nipsey Hussle is underway at the Staples Center in Los Angeles a week after the rapper was murdered in that same city he dedicated his life and career to serving. With some 21,000 in attendance, from a mix of fans, peers, and loved ones, performances are expected from Stevie Wonder, Jhené Aiko, Marsha Ambrosius, and Anthony Hamilton, as well as tributes from YG, Snoop Dogg, and Hussle’s longtime love Lauren London.
Ahead of the memorial, photos of the program handed out at the service were shared on social media, revealing a heartbreaking poem Lauren wrote to Hussle, excerpted from a text message she sent to him in January. “You’ve been my turn up and church. I wouldn’t want to go thru this journey with anyone but you,” it reads. “I love you so much. Unconditionally. My truth is this. I’m never going to give up on you. My loyalty and devotion is to you.”
The booklet also included a message from Jay-Z, which read, “The seeds you have planted are already bearing fruit … Sleep well, King. The Marathon continues as a line of energy for all of us to consider.
Following readings from Minister Reid Rich and Pastor Shep Crawford and a video montage of Hussle’s life set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Ambrosius sang a powerful cover of Mariah Cover’s “Fly Like a Bird.” Her performance was followed by Hussle’s friend and associate Karen Civil, who read a letter from Barack Obama written that same morning, saying he first learned of Hussle’s music through his daughers and familiarized himself with Hussle’s community work following his passing. “[He] set an example for young people to follow [and] is a legacy worthy of celebration,” it read.
Next, Louis Farrakhan offered a speech honoring Hussle whom, he declared, “is to hip-hop and rap what Bob Marley was to reggae. He is the prophetic voice of all in that community.” Singer Anthony Hamilton followed that speech with a performance of his song “Do You Feel Me.” Father Thomas Uwal next read a scripture in the Eritrean language Tigrinya as a nod to Hussle’s Eritrean heritage (his birth name was Ermias Asghedom).
This post will be updated accordingly.