I Got a Name

I ain’t gonna lie, I hadn’t heard of Nipsey Hussle until he was shot and killed in Crenshaw. Since his passing, I’ve watched a few videos and interviews on YouTube. And like so many others, I learned how much he meant to so many people – inside and outside of his community. Nipsey was a change agent, and it’s too bad that his greatest accomplishments have been reduced to: What if?

Because I follow the actress, Lauren London, on Instagram, I knew that I had seen Nipsey; but again, I didn’t know who he was, what he did, or that he and London had a child together.

As compelling stories about Nipsey began to emerge day after day, I, quite frankly, was more curious about his name. If you’re from my generation, you needn’t be a rocket scientist to realize that there had to be some connection to the late comedian, actor, and dancer, Nipsey Russell.

Unfortunately for me, it was not as interesting and romantic as I wanted it to be. Ermias Asghedom’s childhood friend simply gave him the nickname “Nipsey Hussle” because of his ability to get things done. And the name stuck.

Nipsey Russell, whose first name is Julius, got the moniker “Nipsey” because his mother liked the way it sounded.

I have been a fan of the late comedian for as long as I can remember. His wit, charm, and ability to make people smile is the stuff of legend, especially on the game show circuit. Of course, I love him most for his portrayal of the Tinman in my favorite movie of all time: The Wiz. Of all of the songs in the film, Russell’s “Slide Some Oil to Me” is the first one I learned. I realize that this is probably of little interest to you. But I got so much joy out of singing and performing the song in my house (usually in front of an audience of one: my younger brother).

On the old game shows To Tell the Truth, Match Game, Password, $50,000 Pyramid, and Hollywood Squares, Nipsey was the resident poet laureate of television. Here are some of his poems:

“Those who think of women as the weaker sex,
Just can’t see the trees for the woods,
For no matter how loud the rooster crows,
It’s the hen who delivers the goods.”

“There’s so much talk about sex today
That I have made a vow,
To find the guy who invented sex,
And see what he’s working on now.”

Because he always shared the spotlight with other celebrities on the game shows, occasionally one of them would respond to his poetry. After this one, the response came from…Well, I’ll let you read it for yourselves.

“The one who could make your life complete,
Need not be young and fair,
Just be a nymphomaniac,
And a multimillionaire.”

Betty White’s response: “I’m not a multi-millionaire, but 1 out of 2 ain’t bad.”

Russell made his final appearances as a regular on Late Night with Conan O’Brien before passing in 2005 at the age of 80.

And while Hussle (33) wasn’t blessed with length of years, his impact will carry on.

RIP to both Nipseys

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