Nicki Minaj accepts the Game Changer Award at the Billboard Women In Music 2019
Getty Images / Rich Fury

While accepting the Game Changer Award at Billboard’s Women in Music ceremony yesterday, Nicki Minaj paid tribute to Juice WRLD. In her touching speech, she spoke of the times she shared with the late rapper and about mental health and drug abuse.

“I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice WRLD,” Minaj said. “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.”

Then, Minaj admitted that she wished she could have done something more to help him. “I felt like he was a kindred spirit, and looking back now, I wish I did something differently or said something to help.” Although the Billboard ceremony is all about honoring women in the music industry, Minaj revealed that she didn’t feel comfortable talking about herself “when someone so important to our culture just died.”

She also touched on mental health and drug abuse in the music industry. “Drugs aren’t the problem, it’s the way we fix our problems. It’s so important we talk about mental health 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.”

Juice WRLD tragically passed away on December 8 after a seizure at Chicago Midway Airport. Check out Nicki Minaj’s heartfelt speech below.