Nicki Minaj is paying her respects to the late rapper Juice WRLD following his untimely death over the weekend.
The “Chun-Li” artist was honored with the Game-Changer Award at the Billboard Women In Music Awards on Thursday, and she used her acceptance speech to share an emotional tribute to the “Lucid Dreams” rapper.
“I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice WRLD,” Minaj shared, after thanking Billboard for the award. “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 actually felt like, ‘Hmm, what I am actually worried about?'”
“I felt like he was a kindred spirit, and looking back now, I wish I did something differently or said something to help,” Minaj continued. “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.”
Minaj said the young performer — who died on Sunday at the age of 21, after suffering a seizure at Chicago’s Midway airport — was always “honest and pure about what he felt,” which was something that “inspired” her.
She also said that, while she understood that the event was intended to celebrate female artists in the music industry — and that all the other women being honored “inspire me as well” — she said she didn’t feel “comfortable [talking] about me when someone so important to our culture just died.”
“I want to honor him tonight and send my condolences to him and his family and his girlfriend and his friends and everybody,” Minaj shared.
The celebrated performer also used her platform to open up about the subject of drug abuse, it’s underlying causes, mental health, and the pressures put on public figures.
“It’s so important that we don’t pass judgement so that people don’t feel ashamed to speak up and ask for help,” Minaj shared. “It’s so important 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 are suffering, so they’d rather medicate themselves.”
“I came here tonight to ask people to be a little bit more forgiving and understanding, especially with entertainers,” she added. “We can’t have a bad day.”
Minaj said that this level of scrutiny and pressure is even more prevalent for female celebrities.
“We don’t always feel sexy, we don’t always feel cute, we are not always in the mood… but we have to, and that’s abnormal,” she said. “It’s abnormal to be on all the time… We’re not allowed to complain, we’re not allowed to be human, we’re not allowed to have a bad day because we are so blessed. But that makes no f**king sense.”
“We’re human. All of you in here are human. And you are allowed to be human and not beat yourself up for doing that,” she added.
Minaj concluded her speech by thanking her colleagues and those who have supported her in her career, as well as her “incredible fans” who have “been with me through thick and thin.”
She also gave a shout-out to her new husband, Kenneth Petty, sharing, “Thank you for everything! I love you so much.”
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