Nipsey Hussle loomed large over the Grammy Awards on Sunday night as the late rapper was honored with a star-studded tribute. Hussle, real name Ermias Asghedom, was fatally shot in Los Angeles on March 31, 2019. He was 33 years old.
On Sunday night at the Staples Center, director Ava DuVernay introduced the tribute to the fallen rap icon.
“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,” DuVernay said. Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch took the stage to open the tribute.
Moments later, the Grammys audience rose to its feet as DJ Khaled and John Legend performed the powerful single “Higher,” which they recorded with Hussle. Rapper YG, Hussle’s band, Kirk Franklin and a gospel choir joined them for the performance, in one of the most memorable moments of the evening.
The song, from Khaled, Hussle and Legend, later in the night won the Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Performance. Earlier in the day, Hussle won a posthumous Grammy during the pre-show ceremony, taking the Best Rap Performance trophy for “Racks in the Middle” featuring Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy.
The location of the Grammys tribute was notable because Hussle’s family, friends, and fans filled the Staples Center on April 11, for a memorial service after the rapper and philanthropist’s death.
“We’re all feeling crazy sad right now because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero, and we’re literally standing in here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” Grammys host Alicia Keys said.
She was then joined by Boyz II Men for an a capella version of the group’s single “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
At the end of the Hussle tribute, pictures of he and Bryant appeared over the Grammys stage.