Nipsey Hussle’s tragic shooting death rocked the hip-hop nation last March, but now a group of men inspired by his legacy has started a nationwide bookclub in his honor.
According to the Los Angeles Times, The Marathon Book Club, whose membership consists of 76 Black and Latino men was started with the intention of reading and then thoughtfully unpacking books that motivated the rapper and entrepreneur before his death.
They say the came up with the idea after coming across a list of Hussle’s favorite books that a diehard fan from Wisconsin had been compiling for years and posted on the internet.
“Nipsey’s mind intrigued me so i compiled a book list of gems he had read. i’ll continue to update it as well,” a user who goes by the name @theSIMSITY tweeted back in April. “i’ll continue revamping it in the thread. keep passing the baton.”
The list contains books the rapper had very specifically mentioned or referenced in interviews, songs, and motivational messages. Not surprisingly it includes self-help bestsellers, cult classics and also a smattering of lesser-known books by Black authors.
nipsey’s mind intrigued me so i compiled a book list of gems he had read. i’ll continue to update it as well. pic.twitter.com/HHlPatp44f
— ਸਿਮਰਨ 🇮🇳 (@theSIMSITY) April 12, 2019
From book club to rap session
Since its inception, the collective – whose members include professors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investment bankers, and at least one former athlete — has held meetings in Oakland, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. And they admit that their gatherings quite often turn into cathartic group therapy sessions.
“How many times as black men have we heard something before and had to bite our tongues?” member DeRon Cash asked, rhetorically musing on the impact of Black men being socialized to suffer in silence.
“We all have to learn how to [navigate spaces] whether we’re with our own people or we’re in spaces with prominently white people,” noted fellow book club member R.J. Harris. “You have to master that skill to be successful in the real world.”
At the time of their interview, the group was reading the late Sam Greenlee’s “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” a book whose protagonist also has to grapple with often being the only Black voice in the room.
In a 2018 interview withThe Breakfast Club, Hussle revealed his plans to use the book’s name for his next album but was unfortunately slain before being able to make those plans a reality. He related to how Dan Freeman, the main character in the book, left the CIA to avoid being a token. In a similar fashion, Hussle said he often felt like he was treated more like a token than a flesh and blood man by the music industry.
“In terms of hip-hop, you think of the message that they embrace, I feel parallel with the power structure. They got prescribed personas they expect from us. I feel like the way [Freeman] used their intentions against them was one of my underlining strategies,” the rapper said in the interview. “I don’t wanna go blow nothing up like he did, but in terms of being able to mobilize his homies to a higher cause, that’s something I feel like we all have to do.”