It seems Nipsey Hussle was a talented wordsmith long before he entered the rap game.
Days after Nipsey was fatally shot in South L.A., the artist's childhood poetry and short stories surfaced online. The pieces were shared by a Twitter user who claimed to be a former classmate of Nipsey, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom.
"So it turns out that @NipseyHussle was my friend Ermias from elementary school," one of the tweets read. "Sad we lost touch and even sadder to learn of his tragic passing. Here are some yearbook pics and a short essay he wrote on the meaning of friendship at age 9."
The Twitter user, who asked be identified as David, said he was enrolled at The Open School with Nipsey and also shared short stories and poems the rapper had written that were published in the school's yearbook.
Naturally, many questioned the legitimacy of the Twitter user's claims; some even accused the individual of posting doctored images. So, David posted a video that showed one of the pages he previously shared, as well as the cover of The Open School yearbook dated 1995.
David described The Open School as "an alternative learning environment."
"It changed to The Open Charter School, I think when we were in 2nd or 3rd grade. It was one of the first charter schools in LA, I’m told. Before they became weird and kind of scammy," he told Complex. "It was kind of a Montessori school, where reading and writing and critical thought were really encouraged."
David said he and Nipsey were in the same grade, and attended the school together for five years. He said the last time he spoke to the rapper was at their fifth grade graduation.
"I would think about him from time to time as just a nice sweet smart kid I used to know," he said, before explaining his reaction to news of Nipsey's death. "I just didn’t even realize it was the same person, to be honest. It was only when I heard the name Ermias that my ears perked up. And I thought he kinda looked like Ermias. And I spoke to my grade school friend who also knew him, and he confirmed he looked like him. But we didn’t remember his last name. So I called my mom to ask her to go through old yearbooks. And then I saw his picture and then his name next to the first piece my mom found when he was 9. And then it was confirmed."
He continued: "Then once I saw that, I had mixed emotions. So happy for what this cool kid I was friends had done with his life, so amazing. But also so so sad. For him and his family and the community. And regret that I wasn’t able to stay in touch as our lives diverged. I’m very proud of him and what he accomplished, as I think we all are."
Nipsey was gunned down Sunday outside his Marathon Clothing store in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The alleged gunman, 29-year-old Eric Holder, has been charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Chris Darden is representing Holder in the case. Darden entered a not guilty plea on his client's behalf Thursday.
The suspected gunman faces up to life in prison if convicted on all charges.