The hip-hop mogul, 49, shared a tribute to Hussle (born Ermias Asghedom) in the program of A Celebration of Life for Hussle, the large pubic memorial held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“‘Top of the top,’ this is how Nip always greeted me in the morning as if he was reminding me that he was steadfastly holding on to the top of the top of his own life string and destiny!” JAY-Z wrote in the program, obtained by Complex.
“So, Top of the top — Nip,” said JAY-Z of Hussle, who worked closely with Hov’s record label Roc Nation and was a close friend.
“The world just got to see a flash of your brilliance. You were a curious soul who was evolving at a speed that was truly inspiring. The seeds you have planted are already bearing fruit,” he continued.
“The outpouring of admiration is testimony to the love and respect you’ve farmed. Sleep well King. The Marathon continues as a line of energy for all of us to consider. LOVE AND LIGHT JAY,” JAY-Z concluded.
The two rappers connected back in 2013, when Hussle released his independent album Crenshaw, selling the CDs for $100 a piece. Hearing of the entrepreneurial rapper’s new project, JAY-Z reached out and arranged to purchase 100 copies of the disc for $10,000.
Hussle died on March 31 after being shot on the street near his clothing store is in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Los Angeles; he was 33 years old. The next day, the Los Angeles Police Department named a suspect and released a statement asking the public’s help in locating suspect Eric Holder, 29.
Following the news of Hussle’s death, his fans and peers — including Beyoncé — shared their condolences on social media.
“I’m praying with every ounce of my heart for your family,’ Beyoncé wrote in an Instagram post. “Rest In Peace, Nipsey.”
In the April 9 podcast Meaningful Conversations with Maria Shriver, Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, spoke out on the rapper’s death, revealing she has a long-running group chat with daughters Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, as well as Kelly Rowland and Knowles’ niece, Angie.
“I’m sure you heard about Nipsey Hussle being killed, so we’ve been on this group chat… the sadness about that, and the disappointment,” Knowles added. “He’s on my son-in-law’s label and my son-in-law [JAY-Z] loved him so much.”
“He was such a great guy that the whole community is sad, but it’s really comforting to be able to be on that group chat and talk about it,” she continued. “It’s like counseling.”