LOS ANGELES -- Donny El Masry is honoring his old friend Nipsey Hussle, originally named Ermias Asghedom. As an Egyptian American, El Masry said he and Asghedom connected on a deep level of cultural understanding.
“He was a great individual overall. Great hearted. Always was making plays. Always had a lot going on. You can tell he had the entrepreneurial mind. Very brilliant minded and cared about his family and friends. And seeing him progress through the years, I was very proud of him,” El Masry said.
While El Masry’s friendship with the late rapper and activist solidified before Hussle’s major success in the music business, El Masry said the fame never changed him. He was always authentic.
“Once I seen him backstage at a concert and I looked at him and said, 'You remember who I am?' He said, 'Of course, how could I forget you?' You know, day one, back in the day,” El Masry said.
He said knowing Nipsey, a fellow first generation American like himself, inspired him to think outside the box. He said Asghedom had a special love for all of the diverse communities of Los Angeles.
“His Eritrean background came from his parents of course, he was open to all sorts of backgrounds. When I told him I was Egyptian, it put a smile on his face. He was a very international man. He went overseas and was starting to build a big name for himself overseas,” he said.
Reflecting on his experience with the rapper’s family, El Masry said Hussle’s generous spirit, in many ways, came from his Eritrean father, a native Arabic speaker, full of hospitality.
“When I would come to The Marathon shop here, his father would always show me love. Give me discounts at the store. We’d talk about stories. His dad, we called him pops, he was a great man," he said.
Asghedom traveled to Eritrea at the age of 19, which awakened him to a new mindset regarding community impact.
“It inspires me. Since the day I met him. He motivated to want to build and make the city a lot better. It’s inspiring me to build and invest myself for my future for my friends and my family, like Nipsey Hussle did, because he was great for the community," he said.
El Masry believes, even though Nipsey has departed, his impact and legacy are just getting started.