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Grammys: John Legend, Meek Mill, DJ Khaled and More Pay Tribute to Nipsey Hussle

January 26 – Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch and YG came together to posthumously honor Nipsey Hussle at the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday.

Hussle was killed outside of his South Los Angeles clothing store in March 2019. The musician was shot multiple times and was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was 33.

Ava DuVernay introduced the performance, which she said honored Hussle, “who made brave, brilliant strides in his community.”

The tribute opened with Mill rapping “Letter to Nipsey.” After referencing the letter Barack Obama wrote in Hussle’s honor, he touched on the late musician’s impact. “When we lost you, it really put some pain on me,” he rapped. Mill continued, “Real hitters never die.”

Ricch then took center stage with his own solo before DJ Khaled and Legend sang their collaboration with Hussle, “Higher.” Legend belted out the lyrics while playing the piano as a choir sang along with them.

YG also got in on the action as he strutted onto the stage to perform part of the song. Franklin followed with his own solo.

The tribute performance also honored Kobe Bryant, who died on Sunday. The basketball legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, were aboard his private helicopter when it crashed in Calabasas, California.

The performance concluded with large photos of Hussle and Kobe Bryant looming over the stage.

Following the tribute performance, Legend and DJ Khaled were joined by Hussle’s family to accept best rap/sung performance for “Higher.” “This is for Nipsey Hussle,” said DJ Khaled. Legend next thanked DJ Khaled for recruiting him and Hussle for the song. “I want to thank all of you for supporting this and for lifting Nipsey’s name up. We all love him. We all miss him. It’s terrible that we had to lose him so early,” said Legend. “We thank his family for being here tonight with us. Thank you for allowing us to use his legacy and lift it up in song tonight.”

“We’ve seen so much tragedy today and last year and so much has gone on,” Legend continued. “Let’s love our families. Let’s hold each other tight.”

Hussle also took home best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle” at the 2020 ceremony. The late rapper was nominated for three Grammys this year. He lost in the third category, best rap song for “Racks in the Middle,” to the songwriting team behind J. Cole and 21 Savage’s “A Lot.” He was previously nominated at the 2019 ceremony in the best rap album category for Victory Lap.

In addition to his work as a musician, Hussle was well known for his commitment to his local community, where he invested time and money into educational and business programs. In February 2018, he opened Vector 90, an innovative co-working space and STEM center in Crenshaw. At the center’s unveiling, Hussle stated that he wanted to mentor and provide a path for minority and underrepresented groups to find opportunities in Silicon Valley. He was also an advocate and community partner for Destination Crenshaw, an outdoor music, arts and culture event that celebrates black Los Angeles.

The 2020 Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and aired on CBS. Alicia Keys hosted the ceremony.

Katherine Schaffstall | The Hollywood Reporter