The late Chicago rapper Juice WRLD significantly impacted hip-hop, considering his little time as an active artist within the genre. Juice WRLD was revered as one of the best and most creative cloud rap artists. Many sources have said the diminishing relevance of SoundCloud rap correlates directly with his death, insinuating that he was shouldering the subgenre alone—quite the feat.
During his quick rise to fame, many compared the rapper (real name Jarad Higgins) to Lil Wayne due to his emo-like persona and ability to fuse rock with hip-hop. Unlike Lil Wayne, Higgins managed to merge the two genres to a vast critical claim. Juice WRLD’s ascension into the limelight happened at lightning speed and was, in fact, so fast that one could expect there was a certain level of anxiety present. Mixed with a bit of imposter syndrome, Juice WRLD appeared relatively comfortable to the public. Still, he was undoubtedly battling demons behind the scenes.
Higgins began his career as an independent artist operating out of Chicago. Akin to Chance The Rapper, Juice WRLD seemed as if he would remain in ‘The Windy City’ unsigned with complete creative control over his music. However, in 2017 aged 19, Higgins was scouted by A&R’s at Interscope and, before long, was releasing music professionally on a major label. This deal took him to new heights. However, a track that the musician released on SoundCloud in 2017 before getting signed was receiving so much attention on the site that it reached streams in the tens of millions. For a SoundCloud single, it was unfathomable. Due to the track’s online momentum, Interscope wanted to re-release it, but professionally mixed and mastered.
Entitled ‘Lucid Dreams’, the album cut was re-released in May of 2018, and it was a phenomenon like no other. The single, which was his debut, peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and got certified Diamond selling the equivalent of over 12million units. Higgins then proceeded to release: ‘All Girls Are the Same’, ‘Lean Wit Me’, “Wasted”, and ‘Armed and Dangerous’, all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. He was an overnight sensation. His 2018 debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance was certified triple platinum, peaking at number four on the Billboard 200. Following its success, he hit the road to tour.
However, on December 8th, 2019, upon landing in Chicago on a flight from LA, the Chicago police department requested to search the plane following a tip-off that there were drugs on board. In a desperate attempt to absolve himself, Higgins consumed multiple Percocet pills to hide them, triggering an aggressive onslaught of convulsions that would ultimately kill him. Just months before his death, Higgins spoke with Complex magazine about his musical influences and favourite artists. When asked about who gets inspiration from the rapper responded “Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, this rock band named Escape The Fate, and… I’m trying to think of the last one. Honestly, the last one, I would have to go with Future.”
Elaborating on his love for Lil Wayne the late rapper explained, “Wayne is one of my favourite rappers. I have a very big appreciation and admiration of Lil Wayne. He changed the game when he came in the game. I still think to this day, when he was in his prime, prime, he was the best rapper alive. So, that means a lot.” It’s a shame that hip-hop lost Juice WRLD so soon. However, we can still honour his legacy by listening to his music. Below you can listen to his breakout track ‘Lucid Dreams’.
Juice WRLD favourite rappers:
- Lil Wayne
- Kanye West
- Kid Cudi