Nipsey Hussle was honored with an emotional, star-studded tribute at the 2020 Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
“Music is, at its best, a kind of community,” director Ava DuVernay said when introducing the memorial performance. “Tonight we celebrate the enduring memory of an artist and a leader who made brave, brilliant strides to unite this community here in Los Angeles and around the world.”
The late rap icon, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, is nominated posthumously for three Grammy awards this year. On March 31, Hussle died after he was tragically gunned down on the Los Angeles street where his clothing store, the Marathon Clothing Company, is located. He was 33 years old.
Paying homage to Hussle on music’s biggest night, John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG hit the stage to deliver an all-star performance that was truly a nod to the late rapper’s musical legacy.
Mill kicked off the heartfelt performance and then Ricch joined in, snaking through the crowd.
“Long live Nipsey Hussle,” Khaled said when he took the stage, encouraging the audience in the Staples Center to rise to their feet. Legend accompanied new dad Khaled on piano for a performance of Hussle’s posthumous release “Higher.”
YG was the next to take the stage, adding a splash of red to a sea of performers in white. Kirk Franklin then jumped in on the energetic performance that ended with images of Hussle and NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died earlier Sunday in a helicopter crash.
“Rest in peace Nispey Nussle. Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant,” Khaled said at the end of the performance. “Long live Nip. Long live Kobe. The marathon continues.”
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Hussle’s hit song “Racks in the Middle” has earned him nominations for best rap performance and best rap song. Rappers Ricch, 21, and Hit-Boy collaborated with the late artist on the tune. Khaled’s track “Higher” featuring Hussle and Legend, 41, is up for best rap/sung performance.
“An activist, entrepreneur and rapper, Nipsey Hussle had a lasting impact on not just his community, but also the culture at large,” Ken Ehrlich, Grammy Awards executive producer previously said of the late star.
“There is no denying the influence he had and his legacy will be felt for generations to come,” he added.
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“We are honored to bring together this amazing group of artists to celebrate Nipsey’s life and pay tribute to his many contributions to music,” Ehrlich said. “It’s sure to be a memorable performance.”
Hussle is survived by his 11-year-old daughter Emani from a previous relationship and his 3-year-old son Kross Ermias with his girlfriend, actress Lauren London.
The 62nd Grammy Awards are airing live from Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.