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It wasn’t Rodeo Drive.
But rapper Nipsey Hussle could look around at the strip mall he’d purchased in South Los Angeles (LA)—home to Baba Leo’s Fish Shack, Steve’s Barbershop and a Boost Mobile—and fall into a rhapsody about the area’s potential. He earned his nom de hip-hop
selling socks, T-shirts and other more illicit goods nearby. Now he had a vision for redeveloping the plaza and had started by opening his own clothing store, calling it The Marathon to emphasise his long-term outlook.
“We want to create enterprise around the music,” the 33-year-old artist explained in February 2019, seated in one of the mall’s stores.
“As passionate as I am for music, I have equal passion for making sure that when the music stops, the thing keeps going.”
Seven weeks later, Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in front of The Marathon. But things kept going. In fact, they kept going so well that he landed at No 10 on our annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities. All told, Nipsey Hussle earned $11 million in the past 12 months, a bigger annual haul than in any year he was alive. In just the US, the Grammy-nominated rapper clocked 1.8 billion streams over the past 12 months, and his prescient insistence on maintaining control of his master recordings means more cash per spin than most stars in this world or the next. In addition to his music, there was his Marathon income and a Puma partnership.
Nipsey Hussle could regularly haunt this list if everything in South LA goes according to plan—adding apartments, plus a Nipsey Hussle museum perhaps—and his heirs release what business partner Steve Carless describes as “hundreds of ideas” in the vault, from hooks to verses to complete songs.
“Nipsey was never interested in piecing together albums that didn’t fit a certain level of continuity,” Carless says. “We’re going to be even more meticulous about how we get back to the masses, and how we keep pushing forward his message.”
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(This story appears in the 13 March, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)