Raheem Nelson

Nipsey Hussle

The art I enjoy creating the most has a clear message. I was on the phone with my friend Chris (C-E-O) Ortiz. He paused and told me that Nipsey Hussle had been shot and killed in Los Angeles in front of his clothing store. Part of me wasn’t shocked because our culture is so acclimated to people of color getting killed on the regular.

It didn’t really hit me until a few days later. I started think “what if my life was cut short before I could fully realize my dreams?” Nipsey was one year younger than I am. It’s scary on multiple levels.

I knew that if I was going to create this memorial piece I couldn’t pull any punches. It had to be a representation of his life, what he meant to hip hop and what could’ve been. I worked quickly and intentionally on this painting on my lunch break at work.

Using the grid tool in Procreate let me quickly get the sketch done so I could almost instantly move onto painting him. I almost left the painting rough and unblended but I wasn’t satisfied with that.

The piece and the message deserved better. I kept pushing until it became as realistic as I wanted. The tattoos, that glimmer of the light that was so ruthlessly snuffed out. It all had to be there. I’m happy with the way this piece came out but I’m conflicted. I wish that I painted him under circumstances that weren’t so grim. All I can do is celebrate the life he lived with this piece of art.

Using Format