Colton Valentine, a well known muralist in San Antonio, has paid homage to Nipsey Hussle, the hip-hop artist who was shot and killed outside of his Los Angeles store last week.
For Valentine, Nipsey's death was personal.
Instagram / Colton Valentine
Born Armias Asghedom, Nipsey Hussle gained notoriety for his 2013 mixtape, Crenshaw
, at first for its $100 price tag. The project featured appearances by Texas giants Slim Thug
, and got him into the Top 40 of the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Jay-Z was noted to buying 100 copies of the pricey mixtape to show support of the artist.
"His music, interviews and business moves have taught me very important things on how to make it within an environment that’s already set up against you," Valentine said. "Coming from the same area as him, I’ve been through some hard times. Whenever I find myself coming out of another struggle, I play his music."
Instagram / Nipsey Hussle
Nipsey was not a cliche thug-turned-rapper: he spent much of his earnings on investment properties and real estate, providing jobs for the low-income communities in his hometown in Los Angeles. His clothing store, the Marathon Clothing, was built on Slauson Avenue, the same street he once sold drugs on. The clothing store was comprised of up-and-coming rap artists that Nipsey saw as highly talented.
"I've been paying attention to him since back in the day," Valentine said. "Even living in Los Angeles you would always hear about the nice things he’s done for people. I’ve always studied him in that way, hoping one day I could help people."
Instagram / Nipsey Hussle-Marathon Clothing
, his only studio album from 2018, was nominated for a Grammy award.
Instagram / Nipsey Hussle
"I personally feel like his music is enlightening, and his words are powerful," the muralist said. "His words deliver the message of dealing with the lifestyle in L.A. and overcoming the struggle we are born into. He motivates you to hustle."
Nipsey's early life was nothing short of complicated. He struggled with a criminal record and gang involvement as a teenager. Yet, even through these odds, overcame his troubled environment.
"Being born into the streets doesn’t make our deaths a statistic," Valentine said. "This never hindered him, he came from selling CDs on the streets to owning his own worldwide brand. Seeing him do this encourages people to be strong and work harder every day."
Valentine's mural has gained appreciation from all walks of life across the city, becoming a spot for fans to lay flowers, wreaths and hold a candlelit vigil. Even DeMar DeRozen
, small forward and shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs, visited the mural.
"I truly believe he was the Tupac of our generation," Valentine said. "The marathon continues."
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.