Local artist paints mural memorializing late L.A. rapper

in A&E

Rapper Nipsey Hussle is being mourned in the hip-hop community

When the news broke that Nipsey Hussle, an L.A. Grammy-nominated rapper, had been killed, the hip-hop community stood together in its mourning. Hussle was not only a rapper but a serious investor in his community; he sought ways to bring about fundamental social and economic change to the area.

230 miles north of where he was shot, people are paying their respect for him. One such individual is Fresno native and artist Frank Pardo, who painted a wall-sized mural of Hussle.

“I respect him, and I wanted to show my respect since he just passed away.” – Pardo

“I respect him, and I wanted to show my respect since he just passed away,” Pardo said.

Although Pardo didn’t listen to Hussle religiously, he is a fan of hip-hop and knew what Hussle’s death meant to the community, as well as the people he served in Los Angeles.

According to several news outlets in the L.A area, Hussle’s service to the community (aside from his music) included investing in a fish market to increase accessibility of healthier food, being a spokesman to the police department to create dialogue with residents and helping convicted individuals reintegrate into society.

The mural is located next to High City Smoke Shop, near the 99 Highway on Shaw Avenue. Pardo’s friend owns the smoke shop and was the one who suggested to Pardo to paint the mural after Hussle was shot two weeks ago.

The site has become a scene of respect: people from the community have left ornaments, glasses, icons and candles to demonstrate their sense of loss of the rapper. Some people have gathered here, both in an organized way and informally, to take a moment to honor Hussle.

The idea for this piece was to commemorate the rapper in the clouds, inspired by the recent nature of his death. He looks down to Earth with his eyes closed. “It almost looks like he’s praying,” Pardo said.

Pardo plans on adding to this mural. He recently included one of Hussle’s song lyrics: “This the remedy, the separation, 2Pac of my generation”. In addition, he would like to add more clouds in the section of the mural filled with empty blue sky.

Pardo got interested in painting murals in high school, getting his start in tagging. From there he honed his skill by painting things which interested him. Over time, portraits became his speciality. Pardo has painted other murals around Fresno, including a “Rick and Morty” mural in Tower District and a “Grinch” mural near Fresno High School. According to him, this Nipsey Hussle mural is one of his best works.

Pardo hopes that the art he produces brings some sense of joy or inspiration to its viewers. “As long as it makes them feel good, it makes me feel good. I guess that’s part of why I still do it. Maybe it inspires other people, like, they think ‘maybe I can do something like that too’,” Pardo said.

Pardo runs a paint stylist business called “Above Par Designs”,which specializes in designing store logos, signs and customizable items.