Nicki Minaj paid tribute to Juice WRLD while accepting the Game Changer award last night at the 2019 Billboard Women in Music ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.
Nicki spent the bulk of her speech remembering her friendship with Juice WRLD, who died this month at the age of 21.
“I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice WRLD,” Minaj told the audience. “I had a great conversation with him one day, and while we walked to the stage, he held my hand and told me to stay calm and to pray. He said he had been trying to do just that. I was so shocked to hear him, of all people, tell me that. But right there in that moment with him telling me that, I actually did feel calm. And I felt like, what am I actually worried about?”
Minaj referred to Juice WRLD as a “kindred spirit” and shared that he was someone who inspired her.
“Looking back now, I wish I did something differently or said something to help,” she said Thursday night. “He spoke to me in detail about how in love he was with his girlfriend and how passionate he was about music. And when he was in the studio with me, he did so many songs so quickly. He was honest and pure about what he felt, and that inspired me.”
She sent condolences to his friends and family and also spoke about the struggles of mental health and drug addiction.
“I wanna tell everyone that drugs isn’t the problem, it’s the way we fix our problem,” she said. “So it’s important that we don’t pass judgment so that people don’t feel ashamed to speak up and ask for help. It’s so important that we talk about mental health, it is, because people are dying because they don’t want to express how miserable they are and how much they’re suffering so they’d rather medicate themselves.”
Minaj told the audience that she didn’t feel comfortable just talking about herself because “someone so important to our culture” had died.