Nipsey Hussle Taught Me To Wash Both Sides Of The Window

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Wash both sides of the window.

Sorry, there is no anecdote about riding around in Nip’s Maybach while he imparted some deeply considered, esoteric hood knowledge. That wasn’t his style. He wasn’t given to waxing overly philosophically or dressing up his tales — putting scoops on it, he called it. He never put scoops on it. He was plain spoken. He stood by his word. He said what he meant.

Even that lesson: Wash both sides of the window. I made that up. It’s not based on anything he said. It’s based on what he did. His words cut through the beat — his term, when we discussed engineering techniques for how he developed his forceful, crystal-clear sound on records — but his actions, they always, always spoke louder. He knew exactly what he wanted to say and expressed it in how he lived, in the goals he pursued, in how he did business.

By now, you’ve probably already read about his endeavors. The blown deal with Epic that began and ended with his star-making hit “Hussle In The House” and a shelved album, the $100 mixtape, the ten years of independent grind, the Marathon clothing store, buying back his block, the philanthropic donations, refurbishing the basketball court at his old school, the Grammy Award-nominated major label debut, the Vector 90 shared workspace and resource center. No one else would ever have thought to give that to the Crenshaw district — historically, the powers that be have only taken resources from these underserved, attention-starved blocks. Nipsey thought differently, that’s what made him special. But it was how he thought differently, too.

You gotta wash both sides of the window. See, if you only clean the outside of the glass, you can still see every smudge and every print on the inside. If you only clean the inside of the glass, all the grime and dust and dirt from the outside will still be clearly visible. But if you put in the extra work, you can clean the glass so thoroughly that you can’t even see it, that you can see the whole world from within and see everything inside from outside. Nipsey saw that and lived it.

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For instance, he knew how important enterprise and entrepreneurship were to the Black community, because he spoke on it nearly constantly. Ownership. Financial independence. The decks are stacked against us. But he wanted us to have our own, so that we could define ourselves. But unlike some, he didn’t see it as a be-all, end-all solution. Because the decks were stacked by someone. The rules are written by someone. He advocated working within the system too. He knew you had to fight the power from outside, but that you also had to work your way in, to change the role power has in our lives, from oppression to support.