Moving tributes from Nipsey Hussle‘s family members and friends during the late rapper’s memorial service today at Staples Center in Los Angeles culminated quite beautifully with a few words and songs from Stevie Wonder. The singer opened by expressing thanks for knowing Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, and shared his hope that the artist’s murder last month might at last inspire meaningful gun policy reform.
“It is a heartbreak to again lose a member of our family. It’s a heartbreak because it’s so unnecessary,” Wonder said. “It is so painful to know that we don’t have enough people taking a position that says, listen, we must have stronger gun laws. It’s unacceptable. It’s almost like the world is becoming blind.”
Wonder went on to perform “Rocket Love” on piano, introducing the song, “I was told that this was one of his favorite songs that I had done, so I’m going to try to do a little bit of it for you now.” Wonder also performed Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” on steel guitar. Hussle rapped on his own 2016 song “Ocean Views” about wanting Wonder to play at his funeral.
Hussle’s brother, sister, father, and widow Lauren London, as well as Snoop Dogg and YG, also spoke at the memorial service. Journalist Karen Civil read a note by Barack Obama, and tributes written by Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z appeared in the service’s program. The memorial followed a stretch of nightly vigils outside Hussle’s local clothing store, where he was fatally shot on March 31.
You can read Stevie Wonder’s full statement and watch his performance below.
I give our praise to god for allowing me the pleasure of meeting such a great young man. I knew him from hearing his music, hearing him rap, and had the pleasure through someone who is very close to my wife, Pastor P, who arranged a meeting for myself to have a meeting with him for us to talk. I was able to meet, as well, Lauren, and was celebrating her birthday, past week’s birthday, but as well, celebrating the fact that we had a good conversation and looked forward to a wonderful life.
It is a heartbreak to again lose a member of our family. It’s a heartbreak because it’s so unnecessary. We, to be a civilized nation, a civilized world, we still our living in a time where ego, anger, jealousy is controlling our lives. It is so painful to know that we don’t have enough people taking a position that says, listen, we must have stronger gun laws. It’s unacceptable. It’s almost like the world is becoming blind. I pray that we will grow. I pray that the leaders who have a responsibility to perpetuate life will do it by making sure that the laws will make it so very hard for people to have guns and to take their frustrations out to kill life
I’m very happy that in his short life he was able to motivate people, and I hope that it motivates you enough to say listen: enough of people being killed by guns and violence. I hope that we don’t just talk about it but we be about it to make a difference for our future.