Issa Rae, co-creator of HBO’s Insecure and star of the upcoming film Little, told BuzzFeed News’ Profile on Monday that “a sense of hope” was lost when rapper Nipsey Hussle, was killed Sunday.
Rae, who wore a T-shirt with Hussle’s name and face on it, said she took the news “mad hard” because he was someone who was “just so purely about his community.”
Born Ermias Davidson Asghedom, Hussle died Sunday afternoon after being gunned down in Los Angeles near his Marathon Clothing store. Police have not released a motive for the shooting or publicly identified a suspect. TMZ published surveillance video footage of the shooting that shows a man approach the rapper and shoot him multiple times at close range before fleeing. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office on Monday said Hussle died of gunshot wounds to his torso and head.
Rae, who said she grew up with Hussle, told Profile on Monday that the rapper was shot near a bus stop the two once shared along with his older brother.
Rae added that she was inspired by Hussle to invest in her community before she made a name for herself as a writer, actor, and producer.
“In my mind, I was like, ‘Cool, as soon as I get coin, that’s the same thing I’m gonna do,’” Rae said. “And for him to invest so much, to be of the community and then to be gunned down in that same area is just heartbreaking.”
Rae added that there was “something so pure” about Hussle’s humanitarian work, including “being a role model for other young men to be like, ‘Oh, that’s me. I can do that too.’”
“It’s just sad that his life was taken away,” she said. “A sense of hope was taken away, a sense of promise was taken away and that’s just a tragedy.”
Hussle was known equally for his artistic capabilities and his passion for providing opportunities for black culture to thrive. Rae vowed to continue Hussle’s work, saying she recently bought property in Los Angeles and is working on Destination Crenshaw, a community-driven initiative to showcase the talent of black artists in the city.
The Insecure star described the project as “anti-gentrification.”
“We’re gonna have historical landmarks, we’re gonna have black art, we’re gonna make this what Harlem is essentially, where you know that you’re coming into a black neighborhood,” she said. “I’m going to continue doing the fight as much as I can, and fighting his fight, making sure we prioritize us at the end of the day.”
Hussle is survived by his 2-year-old son, whom he had with actor Lauren London. He also has a 7-year-old daughter named Emani from a previous relationship.
You can catch Issa Rae’s complete Profile interview when it airs this Wednesday on Facebook Watch.