Juice WRLD was just beginning to make his mark in the music industry before he unfortunately passed away on December 9 at the tender age of 21.
Straddled between the SoundCloud-oriented generation and his predecessors, Juice stood apart from his peers for his emotionally raw lyricism and natural freestyle talent that garnered respect from his contemporaries and veterans alike, locking down collaborations with hip-hop’s most sought-after, like Young Thug, Future and Ski Mask the Slump God.
Most recently, Juice had linked up with rap empress Nicki Minaj for a joint 22-stop tour across Europe earlier this year. Nicki had even teased a possible collaboration between the two, but it ultimately never materialized.
During her acceptance speech at Billboard’s inaugural Women in Music ceremony on Thursday night (Dec. 12), Nicki took a moment to honor the fallen 21-year-old Chicago rap artist. Although Nicki was being awarded with the Game-Changer Award last night, she said that it would be remiss to solely talk about herself when “someone so important to our culture just died.”
Nicki recalled some of the final tender moments she shared with Juice before his untimely passing. “I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice WRLD,” she shared. “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 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, 'Hm, what am I actually worried about?’”
"I felt like he was a kindred spirit, and looking back now, I wish I [had done] something differently or said something to help," Nicki 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. He was honest and pure about what he felt, and that inspired me."
As she was wrapping her sentiments, she sent her condolences to Juice’s loved ones before ending her note with a poignant message. “Drugs [aren’t] the problem. It’s the way we fix our problem. It's so important not to pass judgment so people don’t feel ashamed to speak out and ask for help. It’s so important we speak up about mental health because people are dying,” she said.
“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 as she gave a shoutout to all the rest of the powerful boss ladies in the room who are on their grind through the rain and sunshine.
“It’s an honor to be here with you guys,” Nicki concluded.
You can listen to Nicki Minaj’s full five-minute acceptance speech here. Check out a clip of her sentiments for Juice WRLD below.
(Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Billboard)