A year ago today (Mar. 31), Crenshaw-bred rapper Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was gunned down in the parking lot of his Marathon Clothing retail store. The Los Angeles shopping plaza, owned by Hussle, was not only a symbol for the Grammy award-nominated emcee’s rise, but it was also an emblem of his love for his neighborhood and motivation toward increased economic growth in the Black community.

By age 33, the prolific artist and businessman made historic and unprecedented strides toward success. In 2013, the All Money In record label founder launched the Proud 2 Pay campaign to promote his $100 mixtape, “Crenshaw.” In 2017, he collaborated with tech innovator Iddris Sandu to establish The Marathon Clothing flagship as an app-driven “smart store” to offer his fans exclusive content and products. By February 2018, Hussle co-founded Vector90, a co-working space and STEM education incubator to promote intellectual discovery and diversity in tech.

In addition, Nipsey Hussle invested in several groundbreaking companies and properties over the years, catapulting him into conversations with fellow business moguls, such as Diddy and Jay-Z.

The phrase “gone too soon” fails to articulate the enormous loss felt by his loved ones and loyal fans. Though the visionary and creative disruptor was on a victory lap of a lifetime at the time of his passing, with only a glimpse of his business-savvy in both music and business, he was merely scratching the surface of what his prolific mind could fathom.

Thankfully, Nipsey’s power moves remain a priceless masterclass for every gifted entrepreneur to unlock their hustle.

LESSON 1: Find unique solutions for unique problems.

“They ain’t gotta use the same models as back in the day… It’s a totally different game. Look at the game like a blank sheet of paper, and go at it based on what you see. That’s the best approach. Pick up the moves and wisdom of what took place and what was successful for artists before but not being made rigid by it. Extract the general concept and apply it to the new approach.”

LESSON 2: Never make excuses.

“Being self-made means never making an excuse as to why you can’t take steps toward whatever your goal is. There’s always something you can do. You may not always have the necessary tools and resources, but you always have something.”

LESSON 3: Personality sells, product flops.

“When I used to go hand-to-hand and grind, I used to have to distinguish myself in five seconds, so I used to be like, ‘Bro, if it’s garbage, throw it out the window.’ And that would make ‘em go, ‘Man, let me see this sh*t.’ And that’s more important than the product. You gotta reverse engineer how you would experience it.”

LESSON 4: Be consistent with what you build.

“Brands get more powerful the more focused they are. You build clientele and that’s a lifetime. If you live by what your values are, your brand values, you get a client that, over the course of [their] whole spending career, they done supported you and end up being worth more than 1000 one-time customers.”

LESSON 5: Don’t quit. 

“Everybody get they game tested. If you don’t quit, you gon’ learn. And you gon’ figure things out. That’s really the secret to everything is how much you can take. How much pressure, how much stress, how much insecurity in your decisions, all of that… Stay down, it’s a marathon.”