Murdered Los Angeles rapper and entrepreneur Ermias "Nipsey Hussle" Asghedom has been celebrated with a three-hour memorial service.
The service at the Staples Centre on Thursday featured tributes, performances and eulogies from family and famous friends in front of a massive crowd at the 20,000-capacity venue.
The last time the Staples Centre hosted a memorial service was back in 2009, in honour of Michael Jackson.
Hussle - who was shot multiple times on March 31 in front of his own Marathon Clothing boutique on Slauson and Crenshaw in South LA - never gained Jackson's level of international fame, having only recently released his first full-length album, the Grammy-nominated "Victory Lap," after a decade's worth of mix tapes that made up the bulk of his artistic output.
But he was a widely admired and influential figure in the hip-hop community and his hometown, with his philanthropy and burgeoning community outreach in South LA mentioned almost as often as music.
With the title track from "Victory Lap" playing on a continuous loop as congregants filed in, the service started on a celebratory note, the crowd rising to its feet as a DJ played Hussle tracks and congregants waving Eritrean flags in honour of the rapper's heritage.
Music during the ceremony was provided by Marsha Ambrosias, Anthony Hamilton, Jhene Aiko and, finally, Stevie Wonder, who spoke of the need to end gun violence before performing "Rocket Love" and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven."
Snoop Dogg, the West Coast rap godfather who collaborated with Hussle several times, appeared visibly choked up as he remembered how often the MC was compared to him in his early years.
"You are a peace advocate, Nip, and the marathon is gonna continue," Snoop said, before concluding with a rhyme: "God so loved the world that he gave us a great Crip / The late, the great, neighbourhood Nip."
Hussle's older brother Samiel "Blacc Sam" Asghedom described how the 12-year-old Ermias once built his own computer from spare parts then used that computer to record his first music.
Hussle's longtime partner, actress Lauren London, read aloud from a long, touching text message she had sent him in January, giving glimpses of Hussle as a loving, audiobook-obsessed boyfriend and finally exhorting the crowd: "LA, stand up -- this pain is really ours. We lost a real one."
Hussle's business partner Karen Civil drew gasps and cheers when she walked onstage and announced she was about to read a letter "from the 44th President of the United States."
In his letter, Barack Obama wrote: "While most folks look at Crenshaw and see only gangs and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. His choice to invest in that community rather than ignore it, to build a skills training centre and a coworking space in Crenshaw, to lift up the Eritrean-American community, to set an example for young people to follow, is a legacy worthy of celebration."
Australian Associated Press