NBA legend Bryant died just hours before the show began, while DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG all performed a tribute to late rapper Hussle, who won his first Grammy posthumously on the night.
The 2020 Grammy Awards were filled with tributes to Los Angeles icons, celebrating the lives and legacies of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and rapper Nipsey Hussle, who won his first Grammy posthumously on Sunday night.
The Grammys kicked off with a performance in honour of Bryant, who died just hours before the awards began. And later in the show, Hussle’s collaborators and friends, including DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG, gave an all-star tribute to the performer who died last year, in March 2019 – and won the trophy for best rap performance for the track Racks in the Middle.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay introduced the performance, which featured band players, background dancers and Legend wearing traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean clothing in honour of Hussle’s African roots.
Meek Mill performed a new song called Letter to Nipsey, while others joined together for Higher – the DJ Khaled single featuring Hussle and Legend – which also won best rap/sung performance.
The show – which took place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, home of Bryant’s long-term NBA team, the LA Lakers – kicked off with a touching, emotional, a cappella performance of It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday by host Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men. Alicia Keys said as she entered the stage, adding that:
“Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. Right now Kobe and his daughter Gianna … are in our spirits, they’re in our hearts, they’re in prayers, they’re in this building. Take a moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and our support with their families. Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you, we are all feeling crazy sadness right now.”
Lil Nas X brought the story of super-smash Old Town Road to life by performing alongside the artists who helped the song stay at No. 1 for 19 weeks through various remixes, including BTS, Mason Ramsey, Diplo and the track’s main co-star, Billy Ray Cyrus.
Veteran rapper Nas then joined Lil Nas X for a new song, shouting out Bryant at the end: “Kobe, we love you”.
Billie Eilish poses in the press room with the awards for album of the year, record of the year, best new artist, song of the year and best pop vocal album, at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.