Remembering Juice WRLD: The Rise of the Genre-Bending Rapper

Juice-WRLD_Photo Credit: Nabil Elderkin

Jarad Higgins, professionally known as Juice WRLD, was a part of the dark, emo-heavy side of hip-hop that is beginning to come to the forefront as of recent. Widely known for his viral tracks (such as “Lucid Dreams”), Juice WRLD created music that shared how he coped with his emotions and his experiences with life. The raw passion and rhythm-based beats helped Juice WRLD rise to stardom before his unfortunate death.

Jarad Higgins was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 2, 1998. He grew up in a single-parent household with his mom. As a young kid, Jarad wasn’t allowed to listen to hip-hop. He listened to Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco and other rock artists. Inspired by his mother, Jarad learned how to play the piano, guitar, and drums. Under the name JuicetheKidd, Jarad started posting songs to his SoundCloud account. He made the first several tracks using his phone and uploaded them to the streaming platform. As he grew more confident, JuicetheKidd changed his name to Juice WRLD to express his desire for fame and recognition.

In 2017, we saw the release of his first track “Too Much Cash,” by a major producer. Later Juice WRLD joined the collective ‘Internet Money’ to release his first EP. On June 15, 2017, 9 9 9 was released. The 9-track EP featured the viral hit “Lucid Dreams” and the song “Lost Her,” Juice WRLD gathered a lot of attention that year that pushed him to the further into the spotlight.

Later in 2017 Juice WRLD released the EP Nothings Different. The EP featured three tracks, “All Girls Are the Same,” “Dark Place,” and “Denial”. Following the release of the “All Girls Are the Same” music video, Juice WRLD signed to Interscope Records. The song was remixed and gained even more of a fan following. “Lucid Dreams” was re-released and quickly charted on the US Billboard Hot 100.

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On May 23, 2018, Juice WRLD released his first studio album titled Goodbye & Good Riddance. Grade A Productions and Interscope Records are both labels that distributed the album. The seventeen songs on the album focuses mainly on love and drugs. It also features one song with artist Lil Uzi Vert, who produces similar music to Juice. Many of the tracks explore heartbreak or talk about the attempt at recovering from separation. Depending on the listener, it can be difficult to distinguish the artist’s release of emotion versus his pleas for help.

During the following month, Juice WRLD uploaded a two song EP titled Too Soon…. Both songs were dedicated to fellow rappers XXXTentacion and Lil Peep. Juice WRLD announced his first tour and began doing more shows in front of larger crowds of people. He was also featured on Travis Scott’s highly acclaimed album Astroworld. In the latter half of 2018, “Fine China” became the lead single for a collaboration album with Future titled Wrld on Drugs. With 16-tracks, the album features artists like Nicki Minaj, Young Thug, and Lil Wayne.

On March 8, 2019, Juice WRLD released his second studio album, Death Race for Love. Many listeners enjoy the cadence Juice WRLD provided on this project. Others weren’t quite fans of the messaging behind what the artist had shared. During the rest of the year, he focused on touring for his first tour on ‘The Nicki Wrld Tour’ with Nicki Minaj. Juice WRLD continued to collaborate with artists on songs like, “All Night” with RM, “Hate Me” with Ellie Goulding, “Bandit” with NBA Young Boy, and more.

Juice WRLD heavily used drugs such as “lean,” Percocet, and Xanax. Throughout life, he was open about his experiences with drugs. Many of his most popular songs reflect on coping with is feelings. A lot of tracks feed off of his unstable emotions and desires. With his unfortunate death, one can hope that his music and subsequent messages will resonant with listeners. The ways in which Juice WRLD spoke about suffering and self-medication speaks volumes about the need for greater awareness for people dealing with mental health issues. In hindsight, it would seem Juice WRLD’s music is a cry for help. It’s up to current listeners to use his experience and musical message to prevent having to deal with the same fate.

Written by: Carlton Rolle

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