by emily belfiore | Fri., Dec. 13, 2019 4:03 AM
Nicki Minaj is breaking her silence.
On Thursday, the "MEGATRON" rapper paid tribute to late rapper Juice Wrld at the 2019 Billboard Women in Music Event. Minaj, who was awarded with The Game Changer Award for her boundary-breaking achievements in music, used her acceptance speech to honor her friend, who joined her on The Nicki Wrld Tour earlier this year. She told the crowd, "I know this is a Women In Music night and I'm so honored to be in the presence of all of these great women...it doesn't feel comfortable for me to talk about me when someone so important to our culture just died."
"I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice Wrld," her emotional speech began. "I had a great conversation with him and while we walked to the stage, he held my hand and told me to stay calm and to pray. He said that 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, ‘Hmm… what am I actually worried about?' I felt like he was a kindred spirit."
Juice Wrld, whose real name was Jarad Anthony Higgins, passed away on Sunday after suffering a seizure in Chicago's Midway Airport. He was only 21 years old. The "Lucid Dreams" rapper's cause of death is still under investigation, but officers that arrived at the scene say that Higgins was administered two doses of Narcan when he began convulsing. At the time of his fatal seizure, the rapper was with his girlfriend Ally Lotti, who told officers that her boyfriend didn't suffer from any medical ailments but that he regularly takes Percocet and "has a drug problem."
"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. He was honest and pure about what he felt and that inspired me."
Before concluding her tribute, Minaj took a moment to advocate for mental health awareness and encourage those suffering from addiction to seek help.
"I want to honor him tonight and send my condolences to him and his family and his girlfriend and his friends and everybody," she concluded. "And I want to tell everyone that ‘drugs isn't the problem' isn't the way we fix our problem. So, it's so 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. So, I just came here tonight to ask people to be a little bit more forgiving and understanding. Especially with entertainers. We can't have a bad day."
Still on the topic of mental health and acceptance, Minaj gave a special shout-out to the other female artists in the industry and celebrated them for being "human."
"We don't always feel sexy, we don't always feel cute, we're not always in the mood… [bats eyelashes]," she told the crowd. "Why did you have to go there? But we have to. And that's abnormal. It's abnormal to be 'on' all the time. But that's what we signed up for. We're not allowed to complain, we're not allowed to be human, we're not allowed to have a bad day. Because we're so ‘blessed.'"
"But that makes absolutely no f--king sense," Minaj continued. "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. So, in closing, I just wanted to encourage everyone to talk about whatever it is that you need to talk about and to be honest and open, and get help."
—Additional reporting by Alli Rosenbloom
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