It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since Chicago rapper Juice WRLD released his debut album ‘Goodbye & Good Riddance’. In that time he’s been named Top New Artist at the Billboard Music Awards, been on multiple tours and festival lineups, knocked GOATs Kanye and Drake off the top of the charts, dropped his sophomore record ‘Death Race For Love’ and become one of the current biggest rappers in the hip-hop game.
From humble beginnings starting out on Soundcloud to becoming an overnight success with his breakthrough single ‘Lucid Dreams’, twenty-year-old Jarad Higgins known as Juice WRLD isn’t wasting any time. He’s on a mission to change lives and heal broken hearts by pioneering the new-wave of emo-rap music into mainstream culture. The relatability in the pain and vulnerability he expresses in his rap verses is what gives the hitmaker such mass appeal. Debut album ‘Goodbye & Good Riddance’ is full of sombre sing-a-longs where he pines over a lost lover. His consistency to this narrative makes for a sonically-cohesive album full of emotional-filled ballads and bangers alike. Juice is at his best when he rambles off hooks about grievances of the daily grind, getting high, having your heart broken and just genuinely feeling confused. The melodic rapper accurately describes feelings that we all go through – moments of sadness mixed in with dashes of optimism for good measure.
Just ten months later, he released his second album ‘Death Race For Love’, which went on to become his first #1 on the Billboard 200 Album chart as well as making him reach #1 on the Artist 100.
In an interview with Vulture he declares that the album took only four days to record – “Every song but two or three of them on the new album are all freestyles, all made up in those four days.” This would come as no surprise to his early-adopting fans, however, as Juice made some serious waves in the Hip Hop world when he rapped freestyle for over an hour on Tim Westwood TV in June last year.
On Death Race For Love he continues to explore the universal theme of ‘love-sickness’, but in a stark contrast to his first record – he says “‘Death Race for Love’ is about me finding love, pretty much. And the first album was like, me getting rid of love.” Juice also continues to explore the topics of depression, drug abuse and his rise to fame. However it is evident in the lyrics of track ‘Fast’ that money can’t buy happiness – “But it’s okay ’cause I’m rich / Psych, I’m still sad as a b*tch”. ‘Death Race’ is another colourful step forward for Juice’s emo-rap sad-boy sound, with more pop-tendencies creeping in – tracks such as ‘Hear Me Calling’, ‘Robbers’ and ‘Empty’ have helped him earn 12 Billboard Hot 100 entries in 2019 so far – making him the fourth top artist to have the most entries on the chart this year (behind the likes of Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish).
Juice’s angsty-teen anthems have resonated strongly with listeners as well as his peers and it’s his genre-defying talent that sees him as one of the current best collaborative partners. He continues to stay true to his artistry when putting his spin on modern day pop songs – ‘Roses’ by Benny Blanco featuring Brendon Urie would be incomplete without his soft croons and his verse in Halsey’s ‘Without Me’ remix adds another level of heartache.
Juice has defied the latest album roll out trend of releasing every two(ish) years by dropping three records within the last year alone, including a collaborative mixtape with his idol Future, as well as loose singles ‘Rich & Blind’ and ‘Legends’. He’s opened for Nicki Minaj on her European tour as well as headlined 30 dates across the USA. Blink and you might have missed it but he’s already been down under too – he came last Summer to play Falls Festival in Australia and our very own Rhythm and Vines in New Zealand. His relentless work ethic and rigorous touring schedule make him an exciting one to watch for the rest of 2019. With the pace at which this guy works there’s no doubt he’ll be touring all over the “WRLD” and headed back to our shores before you can hit send on a tweet urging him to return. With his monster streaming numbers, three albums and collaborations with some of pop music’s best, there’s no stopping the undeniable force that is Juice WRLD. Try and keep up… if you can!