Eric “Shitty Cuz” Holder has everything Nipsey Hussle had except for talent, brains, imagination, wit, charm, ingenuity, generosity, perseverance, purpose, grace, heart, stature and social conscience.
But Holder did have a gun.
Los Angeles police say he used it to shoot Hussle to death after the two exchanged words on Sunday afternoon.
“We believe they were known to each other,” LAPD Chief Michael Moore later said.
The killing was recorded by a surveillance video, which shows the gunman fleeing after shooting Hussle and two other men outside the rap star’s clothing store.
Hussle collapsed, but was still moving and the gunman can be seen returning to shoot him twice more.
The gunman then appears to kick Hussle in the head before fleeing.
Police say he escaped in a white Chevy Cruze waiting in the side alley, a woman at the wheel.
As attested by his tattoos, Holder was a member of the Rollin’ 60s Neighborhood Crips, the same gang which Hussle openly admitted joining as a teenager.
So police immediately decided that the killing was not the result of a conflict between rival gangs, such as the 40-year war between the Rollin’ 60s and the Eight Tray Gangster Crips, which has claimed dozens of lives.
By the police account and in the surveillance video, Hussle and Holder exchanged words before the shooting. One uncorroborated report has Hussle calling Holder a snitch.
But whatever the immediate content of their conversation, a rivalry of another kind was almost certainly at work—not so much a rivalry between Holder and Hussle as between what Holder wanted to become and what he was turning out to be.
“ima_god_in_da_streetz,” his Instagram username announces.
He has four Facebook pages under the name Fly Mac. The most recent was set up at 3:28 a.m. just two days before the shooting. He posted two adoring photos of himself and nothing else save for a single entry under “about.”
On a 2016 Fly Mac Facebook page, he posted a cover photo of himself as just one of a dozen fellow Crips flashing gang signs. He superimposed a profile photo of himself standing as if he were hip-hop royalty: baseball cap, sunglasses, arms crossed, forearm tats on display, face regally impassive.
“Boss King... cool young king,” he proclaimed himself on Instagram.
But the half-dozen music videos he posted on YouTube are unengaging and his handful of offerings on SoundCloud are at most mediocre.
And he was not some teen just starting out. He is 29, an age when the fact of yourself has begun to emerge from your imaginings.
And in contrast to his sputtering efforts was Hussle’s success, likely only more exasperating for Holder because it was not some bolt of lighting that could be ascribed to luck.
Hussle had worked year after year, making his first big leap when he had a genius idea of disseminating free digital copies of his mixtapes while charging $100 each for a limited edition of hard copies. His break came when Jay-Z bought 100.
And as he made it ever bigger and bigger, Hussle put money right back into the neighborhood, bankrolling educational programs and joining with a real estate investor in buying a small strip mall. He opened The Marathon clothing store there in 2017 with a celebration that included hip-hop stars and big-name athletes. He had arrived, and was bringing the neighborhood with him.
Some of his longtime enemies, the Eight Trays, are said to have discussed “knocking him down.” But nothing was ever attempted.
In the meantime, Hussle spoke of digital shopping and of using tax credits to open franchised clothing stores and fish stores and barber shops in economic opportunity zones across the country.
He also kept making music. He released his first studio album and received a Grammy nomination for best rap album. It should have also been nominated for most apt album name.
No less apt was Hussle’s Twitter handle: “Tha Great.”
By comparison, Holder would have needed to have stormed perpetually ahead of reality not to feel the laughable hollowness of his boast to be a god in the streets.
Unless he has a sealed juvenile record, Holder does not appear to have much of a criminal history by Rollin’ 60s standards.
As police tell it, Holder was most definitely the man who produced a gun after having words with Hussle on Sunday afternoon.
In the surveillance video, the full measure of the gunman’s wrath came when he returned to fire twice more and then kicked Hussle in the head, as if even fatal bullets were not enough.
Holder may or may not have been aware that Hussle was scheduled to meet with top police officials at 4 p.m. on Monday to explore ways to reduce gang violence and, Tha Great’s words, “help them help the kids.”
While he was on the run, Holder also may or may not have watched the live broadcast of the Tuesday morning press conference about the case. His punishment would have begun with hearing a series of police officers extol Hussle and lament his passing as one of the true greats.
“Nipsey Hussle was an artist who touched our city and lives far beyond the City of Angels, throughout the country and the world,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
Holder’s getaway driver would have heard Chief Moore pointedly warn that anyone who assisted Holder could find themselves in serious trouble.
Not long after the press conference, a woman police say was the getaway driver contacted them. Holder was arrested soon after in Bellflower in southeast Los Angeles County.
Shitty Cuz now no longer has even a gun.
And he is not likely ever to get his hands on one again.