In the wake of Sunday’s shooting death of Nipsey Hussle and the outpouring of grief for the rapper who didn’t forget where he was from, I wanted to briefly give some recognition to the man he got his stage name from.
It came from Nipsey Russell, a popular comedian from the 50s, 60’s, 70s 80s and 90s who was a frequent guest on talk and game shows and was best known for his fast - and usually funny - little poems. His rhymes - and I’m totally guessing here - might have been a source of joy for the hip hop artist whose birth name was Ermias Asghedom
Russell made his first national TV appearance in 1957 on the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1978 he play the Tin Man in “The Wiz” with Diana Ross. He was a fixture on “Hollywood Squares”.
During the 1990s, Russell gained popularity with a new generation of television viewers as a regular on late NIght with Conan O’Brien. He would often give his trademark rhymes on the show and - once again, guessing - maybe this is where Nipsey Hustle became entertained enough to adopt a street version of his name.
Born in Atlanta in 1918, Nipsey Russell died at age 87 in New York City in 2005. For the record, Nipsey was born Julius Russell. He said he was given the name “Nipsey” by his mother because she “just liked the way the name Nipsey sounded.”
So did Nipsey Hussle.
Here’s a Nipsey Russell classic
“There’ so much talk about sex
That I have made a vow
To find the guy who invented sex
And see what he’s working on now”
Here’s some of Russell’s rhymes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJx2fvdPzo4