Juice WRLD – born Jarad Higgins – released his first studio album in May of 2018, titled “Goodbye & Good Riddance.” The 16 tracks offered an additional view into the creative “emo-rap” genre Juice WRLD has helped build momentum around.
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19-year-old genre-warping musician Juice WRLD established himself as a Chicago-area native who shunned major streaming services and built a massive following on Soundcloud. On August 14, The Riverside Theater welcomed Juice WRLD , Apple Music’s Up Next” artist of the summer and a leader of the modern emo-rap movement. It was only the second booking of a young hip-hop artist by the Pabst Theater Group and the 19-year-old Chicagoland native put on a rockstar performance worthy of the lavish confines.
At the start of 2019, Juice WRLD continued his dominance and landed six songs on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of January 19, far surpassing any other artist on the chart. Having recently completed a sold-out headlining tour of North America (and toured Europe and Australia as well), Juice WRLD’s plans for 2019 include making his debut performance at this year’s Coachella.
Bandit” swoops in as YoungBoy’s highest-charting Hot 100 song and Juice WRLD’s second-highest hit following Lucid Dreams” from 2018, which clocked in at No. 2.
Yet Juice’s penchant for ear-worm melodies was burdened throughout by often laughably lovelorn lyrics that resembled the angsty, diaristic scrawl of a teen whose heartache over a months-long relationship’s demise is perceived as the end of the universe. Standouts on the album were lost among this repetitive aura. But the simplicity of his hooks, while petulant, was also part of what made them undeniably catchy.
In September 2019, rumors of a feature from YoungBoy began circulating, as a snippet containing some of his vocals appeared online. Teasers of the music video also featured the two artists on boats in a Louisiana lake, seemingly confirming that an accompanying video was on its way. Two days before its release, Juice officially announced the song on social media. On October 4, 2019, the single was released on all platforms, along with a music video directed by Cole Bennett.
When people talk about SoundCloud rappers, they’re often talking about Juice Wrld. There is embedded in the quasi-genre term a sort of rebuke from the older hip-hip establishment. It’s a classic gripe: younger artists don’t know and respect their elders; they don’t understand the fundamentals that they’re disregarding and deviating from. Whatever. Sometimes not knowing the rules yields interesting results.
It doesn’t feel like an overly cynical take on pop music to suggest that the real operator working overtime in any really transcendent pop song is the abstraction of emotion into the greatest common factor, generalization and reduction. And Juice’s ability to abstract without losing his individuality feels like the one truly, irrefutably transcendent quality of Juice’s music. His voice stabs a direct line of electricity into wherever the center of your emotional being is: voices are not supposed to sound lost, like Juice’s does on Maze,” whirling into different directions, each line tumbling over itself. Age has a way of abstracting emotion, and I cannot imagine a notion more antithetical to what Juice WRLD does.
Collaborative mixtapes can be made or ruined by the chemistry between the artists. Future and Juice WRLD, having never collaborated on any track before this album, show little to no chemistry on this tape, dooming it from the beginning. The mixtape seems divided between the respective artists, almost as if the artists were not in the room together when the album was being recorded.
Although Juice never met the late Florida rapper in person, Juice shares that his last conversation with XXX happened during a FaceTime call where they talked about them finally meeting.
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Despite its flaws, the mixtape does deliver some solid tracks. Realer N Realer” features the artists playing off each other in ways that no other track on the album does and even sees Juice WRLD pay tribute to his recently-deceased friend XXXTentacion. Oxy” is incredibly high-energy and features a stellar Lil Wayne verse, although Future does choose to revive his screeching falsetto delivery from King’s Dead,” which can make the song painful at times.
Juice rapped over a dancehall beat on this song, which unexpectedly complimented his style very well. It was very refreshing to hear him rap over this beat in his own emo-trap style rather than putting on a Jamaican accent, which rappers such as Drake have done.
JUICE: It happened after I got famous, and it wasn’t a relationship. It was more about people I thought would always be down for me not being down for me anymore. Some of my old friends that I thought I would have forever kind of just drifted away. When you’re in the moment, and you think you have good friends, you kind of assume you’re going to die next to your friends when you’re in your nineties. But then a lot of people switch it up, and that part is the biggest heartbreak. The music I’ve made after I realized that definitely reflects that experience.
Juice WRLD ‘s NME Big Read shoot is a family affair. In the plush basement of a central London hotel, his mum sitting a few feet away, tucking into a steak, the Chicago rapper’s joined by his girlfriend, Ally, who wraps herself around him, nodding sagely as he offers up bon mots on topics such as his eclectic influences (I’m a music head and always will be”) and the dignity in being an openly emotional man (It’s ones of the toughest things in the world”).
Born Jarad Higgins in 1998, Juice WRLD grew up playing piano, drums, and guitar, then began freestyling in high school. With his distinct lyrical sensibilities shaped by a love for punk-pop bands like Panic! at the Disco, he soon established himself by shunning major streaming services and building a massive following on Soundcloud. Within weeks of premiering the video for his acclaimed single All Girls Are The Same”— featured as a Best New Track” on Pitchfork in March 2018—Juice WRLD scored a deal with Interscope Records. By the end of the year, he’d racked up more than a billion streams on Spotify alone, with his songs earning 69 million hours of play for over 52 million fans in 65 countries.
We’re focusing a lot more on Juice Wrld’s evolution in terms of where like the first album was more dealing with the bad relationship and with heartbreak and with the torment that brought,” Max explains.
Future and Juice WRLD’s collaborative mixtape WRLD on Drugs” sees the Atlanta rap icon Future take a backseat to the up-and-coming Juice WRLD, but lyrical immaturity and a lack of chemistry doom their collaboration.
Time will tell if Juice can keep making songs like this and stay relevant. Will young kids still resonate with sadboy music? Or will they grow to like something else more? Whatever the answer, Death Race For Love proves to be Juice WRLD at his core: whiny and dramatic, but in the best way possible.
In contrast, the Chicago-based Juice WRLD is one of 2018’s breakout stars. With smash hit singles Lucid Dreams” and All Girls are the Same,” and collaborations with Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott, the 19-year-old emo rap crooner has created a niche for himself in the music industry.
In 2017, Juice WRLD gave his first ever live performance at a local rec center in his hometown of Chicago. The crowd, which was comprised of classmates and friends, was receptive to the music and foreshadowed even more paid gigs, as the rapper cashed out with $100 for the performance.
Juice’s second studio album, Death Race for Love, has saw its daylight in March 2019, which became his first project to top the Billboard 200 chart, selling 165,000 equivalent album units by the first week. It featured two singles only, including Robbery” along with the music video dropping on Valentine’s Day and a tropical-vibed Hear Me Calling”.
Juice WRLD concerts feature a blend of his popular hits and new material. He wants to give his fans the music they enjoy, but he tries to expand the list of songs to include his upcoming albums. Collaborations are common occurrences, and remixes of fan favorites often appear as well. Juice WRLD concerts will have a different setlist for each city.
The rapper is so committed to his new music that his friend and engineer Max Lord lives with him so he can record with Juice at any time. Lord says Juice’s new LP takes a different thematical route than the rapper’s previous offerings.
His music portrays a young man that is honest, vulnerable and flawed; features of JuiceWRLD as an artist and persona separate him from many of his peers, and hint at why he has struck such a chord with young people worldwide.