Last night, Nicki Minaj was award the inaugural Game-Changer award at 2019’s Billboard Women in Music ceremony.
During her speech, the rapper paid homage to Juice WRLD, who died at 21 years old on December 8, after suffering a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport.
She 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 called the young talent 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 honored 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.”
She then talked about drugs as a whole and the struggle with addiction many face. “It’s important not to pass judgement so people aren’t ashamed to speak out and ask for help. I just came here tonight to ask people to be a little more forgiving and understanding, especially with entertainers. We can’t have a bad day.”
She concluded by telling entertainers, especially women, that they are “allowed to be human” and feel the way they want. “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.”
Watch her video here.