The heartfelt performance, introduced by Ava DuVernay, began with the late rapper’s friends and fellow musicians, Mill and Rich taking the stage to start off “Letter to Nipsey.” With the assistance of a choir group wearing all white, DJ Khaled, Legend, YG and Franklin got the crowd up on their feet for their performance of “Higher” that played Hussle’s verse of the song, while a video of him from the music video hovered from above the stage. They ended the performance collectively with a picture of Hussle and Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday morning, on the screen.
“Long live Nip, long live Kobe,” Khaled said at the end of the performance. “The marathon continues.”
The late rapper, born Ermias Asghedom, died March 31, 2019 after being gunned down in front of his clothing store in Los Angeles. His legacy has lived on, however, through tributes to his impact on his community and the music industry.
YG, who managed to make his way to the awards show following his arrest and release on Friday, performed “Last Time that I Checc’d,” a song he made with Asghedom which was featured on his last album “Victory Lap.” DJ Khaled teamed up with velvet vibrato Legend and Franklin’s choir for “Higher,” one of Asghedom’s last singles. Ricch lit up the stage with his song “Racks in the Middle,” for which he earned two nominations this year.
Hussle received four Grammy nominations throughout his career – one for best rap album in 2018, and three posthumous nominations this year. He won best rap performance for single “Racks in the Middle” and best rap/sung performance for “Higher.”