Nipsey Hussle, a Grammy-nominated rapper, entrepreneur and activist who believed in uplifting his community by investing in STEM education, said that R&B legend Stevie Wonder’s music would be played at the time of his death.
Nipsey, 33, whose real name was Ermias Ashgedom, was killed outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles on March 31. Eric Holder, 29, was arrested and charged with murder on April 2.
In his 2016 song “Ocean Views,” Nipsey rapped that when he died to “play a Stevie Wonder song.” And Wonder performed at his memorial service on Thursday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Following a tribute from Nipsey’s family, Wonder went on stage to talk about the star.
He said someone close to his family arranged for a meeting between he and Nipsey.
“We had a good conversation and looked forward to a wonderful life,” he said.
“It is a heartbreak to again lose a member of our family. It is a heartbreak because it’s so unnecessary.”
Wonder then commented on gun laws.
“It is so painful to know that we don’t have enough people taking a position that say, listen, we must have stronger gun laws,” he said. “It’s unacceptable.
“It’s almost like the world is becoming blind. I pray that the leaders who have a responsibility to perpetuate life, will do it by making sure that the laws will make it so very hard for people to have guns, and to take their frustrations out to kill life.
“In his short life, [Nipsey] was able to motivate people. And I hope it motivates you enough to say, ‘Listen, enough of people being killed by guns and violence.’”
Wonder then performed one of Nipsey’s favorite songs, “Rocket Love,” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”
There was no shortage of celebrities, including Snoop Dogg, family, friends and fans who paid their respects to Nipsey, filling the Staples Center. Tickets for the “Celebration of Life” were made available free of charge to California residents.
His longtime friend and marketing strategist, Karen Civil, read a letter from former President Barack Obama, whose daughters introduced him to Nipsey’s music.
“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” wrote Obama.
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) April 11, 2019