Nicki Minaj honoured the late Juice WRLD during her acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music ceremony on Thursday night.
The 21-year-old Lucid Dreams hitmaker died at Chicago’s Midway Airport after suffering a seizure early on Sunday. In a statement following his passing, his family opened up about the star’s struggles with mental health and prescription drug addiction.
Taking the stage to collect her Game-Changer award at the prizegiving ceremony, the Megatron hitmaker recalled a moment while touring with the late rapper, while they were walking to the stage one day.
“He held my hand and told me to stay calm and pray. I was shocked that he told me that, but right there in that moment, I did feel calm and wondered, ‘Hm, what am I actually worried about?'”
She went on to call Juice, real name Jarad Higgins, a “kindred spirit” who was passionate about those he loved and the music he was making, and expressed regret for not doing “something to help”.
“I know this is a Women in Music night, and I’m honoured to be in the presence of all these women,” she continued. “But it doesn’t feel comfortable to talk about me when someone so important to our culture died.”
Nicki went on to urge the crowd “not to pass judgement so people aren’t ashamed to speak out and ask for help”, adding: “I just wanted to encourage everyone to talk about whatever it is they need to talk about, and be honest and open and get help.”