The Legacy of Nipsey Hussle

The song that I chose is called “Letter to Nipsey” by Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch, within the Dreamchasers 5 album. This song is about mourning the death of Nipsey Hussle, who was a rapper, activist, and entrepreneur. Nipsey Hussle was killed and died in March of 2019, and was only 33 years old. He was not only a talented rapper, but he was also a crucial member of his community. He used some of the money that he earned from rapping to give back to his neighborhood. Nipsey Hussle opened a STEM center for kids, he bought shoes for elementary school students, renovated playgrounds, provided jobs for homeless people, and funded funerals for local families. An important quote from Nipsey Hussle is, “Growing up as a kid, I was looking for somebody–not to give me anything–but somebody that cared. . . Someone that was creating the potential for change and that had an agenda outside their own self interests,” from the LA times. Nipsey Hussle embodied the change that he was looking for in the world. He was a pillar of his community, and he helped so many people. The song “Letter to Nipsey” is beautiful yet heartbreaking, and celebrates the incredible life of Nipsey Hussle.

The first set of lyrics that demonstrate the song as poetry are: “Hustle and motivate, turning a one into a two/Two into four, hurt my heart, I seen you on the floor” These lyrics use wordplay to make the meaning more personal to Nipsey. His last name was Hussle, pronounced the same as the word “Hustle” used in the song. Also, the late rapper had written a song called “Hussle and Motivate.” The word “Hustle” in this song represents Nipsey’s strong work ethic, and references both his last name and one of his songs. Later within the lyrics, Meek Mill displays his emotions when he says “hurt my heart” as he mourns the loss of a friend.

The next set of lyrics states, “You the first one that made me feel like I could die, (homie)/’Cause real (homies) never die, you know the vibes (homie)” After Nipsey Hussle’s death, Meek Mill is hit with the realization that he, too, is mortal. The repetition of the word “(homie)” demonstrates their bond. When Meek Mill says, “Cause real (homies) never die” he means that although Nipsey Hussle died, his legacy will live on. He will never be forgotten by the rap community.

Another set of lyrics states, “And as the marathon continue, we keep running (we won’t stop)” The word “marathon” is the key to understanding the line. Meek Mill confirms that he will carry on what Nipsey started. The word marathon is commonly used when describing life, and the rappers know that making the world a better place will not happen quickly, but change is possible over time. Meek Mill uses a metaphor when he compares the “marathon” to Nipsey’s work and charity, and that they must still work to impact the world positively.

Final set of lyrics, “Had to turn of my phone, throw on the shades, and meditate/What you know ’bout wishing goin’ blind to hide your tears?” These lyrics sung by Roddy Ricch are tragic. The emotion of losing a friend is too much to bear, and he wants to shut them off. When he says, “goin blind to hide your tears,” this is a hyperbole because he doesn’t literally want to go blind, he doesn’t want to deal with his emotions. So he puts his sunglasses on.

The overall theme of the song “Letter to Nipsey” by Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch is about dealing with a loss, yet bouncing back. They know that they cannot change what happened to Nipsey, they can only move forward and continue the work that he started. Nipsey Hussle was an amazing person, friend, leader, and rapper, and his life deserves to be celebrated. Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch understood this, and although they are writing about a tragic event, they created an inspirational poem. This song is poetry because it uses poetic elements such as a play on words, metaphors, and hyperboles. These elements are typically what make up a poem. I definitely recommend listening to “Letter to Nipsey.”

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