Grammy-nominated rapper and community advocate Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, was fatally shot outside of his clothing store, Marathon Clothing, on Sunday, March 31 in South Los Angeles. He was 33 years old. The shooting also left two others wounded, the city’s mayor confirmed.
The man who allegedly killed Hussle has been identified as 29-year-old Eric Holder, who was charged on April 4 with murder in connection to the attack. Los Angeles County prosecutors filed the charges, which also included two counts of attempted murder.
Authorities say Holder and Hussle were already familiar with each other and had multiple conversations outside Hussle’s South Los Angeles store on the same day of his death.
Shortly after, LA police reported that Holder returned with a handgun and shot Hussle, who was pronounced dead at the hospital. While Holder has pleaded not guilty, if convicted, he faces life in prison.
However, Hussle’s death has become the root of a conspiracy theory that is taking social media by storm.
Despite the fact that law enforcement attributed the rapper’s death to gang violence, much of the black community believes it was a conspiracy connected to his work on a documentary about Alfredo Bowman. Also known as Dr. Sebi, Bowman was an alternative health guru and healer who rejected traditional medicine, claiming he could cure HIV/AIDS and all other diseases with a unique diet.
“Whenever it seems like a prominent figure in the black community is trying to make amends by creating some real, tangible positive work in their lives within their communities—they’re immediately targeted,” said Olivia Sullivan, a sophomore majoring in sociology, women and gender studies and theatre. “Take deceased Miami rapper, Xxxtentacion for example. As soon as he was starting to repent for his sins by doing community work and started to bring up issues in our political system, he is shot in broad daylight.”
Dr. Sebi passed away in 2016 at the age of 82 from pneumonia. On the days leading up to his death, he was in the custody of Honduran police officials after being arrested on money laundering charges.
“It is hard to swallow that Nipsey’s death was just another tragic instance of gang violence within urban communities. I feel like there may have been an ulterior motive,” Sullivan said. “This is more than just another act of gun violence; this is an attack on powerful influencers within the black community.”
Conspiracy debate across numerous social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have insinuated that the rapper was assassinated as part of a cover-up plot sanctioned by the pharmaceutical, medical and regulatory agencies.
Authorities maintain that the murder of Hussle is not connected to his work on the documentary.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said at a press conference on April 2 that Hussle and the suspect were previously acquainted with each other and that there was a personal dispute brewing between the two parties.
“We believe this to be a dispute between Mr. Hussle and Mr. Holder,” Moore said. “I’m not going to go into the conversations, but it appears to be a personal matter between the two of them in regards to a dispute, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Amidst the conspiracy theories, shockwaves of grief and confusion continue to circulate throughout the nation. Hussle strived to promote activism in the black community through music and advocacy. Many supporters and radio stations are streaming and playing Hussle’s music in remembrance of the rapper, and rival gangs have even been seen coming together to commemorate the good Hussle was doing in his community.
Hussle leaves behind his 34-year-old wife, Lauren London, and his two children, Emani and Kross Asghedom.