It seems like every few months, there is a new headline about a promising, talented, unique young star either being killed, being arrested, or dying of preventable causes at a very early age. This is incredibly prominent within the rap and hip hop communities, and the lifestyles led by several artists who create for these genres are complicated and usually not very healthy. From clout chasing to violence to drug use and everything in between, too many young professional artists find themselves wrapped up in a culture they were not expecting and cannot keep up with. For many of them, an early death or period of incarceration is just to be expected given the lifestyle that they lead. For some reason, the idea of chasing clout to its extremes causes people to overdose, to engage in violence, to snitch, and to engage in all manner of ridiculous behavior that never goes well. There is absolutely no positive track record for it but unfortunately so many young artists and influencers fall into this category. One such example is the late rapper Juice WRLD.
Who Was Juice Wrld?
Born Jarad Anthony Higgins in December of 1998, Juice Wrld was an American rapper and songwriter from Chicago. He was born to a very conservative and religious mother who restricted his listening habits growing up, and he was not exposed to hip hop until he was much older. Like so many of his musical peers, his early life was not easy, and he turned to drugs very early on. He began to drink lean as early as sixth grade and was using percocets and xanax before his fifteenth birthday in 2013. He also smoked regularly, and he dropped out of high school before his senior year was over due to health issues brought on by his lifestyle. His musical experience started early, because although he was not allowed to listen to hip hop, he was exposed to a wide range of music, including rock and pop music from popular games such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Guitar Hero. His early influences were groups such as Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Megadeth. He began to play the piano as early as four, and his mother then began to pay for him to also learn guitar and drums as well. He played the trumpet for band class in middle school, and he began posting his own music on Soundcloud during his sophomore year in high school.
Juice Wrld’s Musical Career
Juice Wrld was entirely passionate about music, especially the music he created. A RapTV article quotes him as saying, “Music is just a beautiful thing, like I love myself so much, as far as the way I make music, the way God made me, the way God wired me to do the things that I do, and to change the world the way that I can. I want to tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to, period.” He often spoke from a dark place and dealt with very serious mental illnesses himself such as depression and anxiety. This darkness found its way into his music and his perspective was something that his fans found to be incredibly raw and relatable.His music career began, as stated before, with him releasing his own music on the popular website Soundcloud, which enabled him to start building his musical brand, experiment with new things, and just create what he wanted others to hear.Some of his best songs were:
Lean Wit Me, a fan favorite that fits just about any mood from a party to cruising around in your car with your favorite people
Syphilis, one of his most lyrically complicated songs that speaks to the fact that if he had lived, he would have gone far
My Fault, a song that really dives deep into the emotional complexity that he had and the things that he struggled with on an almost daily basis
Wasted, a club banger featuring Lil Uzi Vert that went viral
Lucid Dreams, his most popular and most streamed song which has over a billion listens on Spotify
He released three albums, starting with Goodbye and Good Riddance in 2018, Death Race for Love in 2019, and posthumously, Legends Never Die in 2020. He also gained popularity based on collaborations he did with much better known artists like Nicki Minaj, doing the Nicki Wrld Tour with her in 2019. He was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for the Song of Summer in 2018 for “Lucid Dreams”, nominated for a BET Hip-Hop Award for Best New Hip Hop Artist in 2018, and won a Billboard Music Award for Top New Artist in 2019.He created real music for real people that conveyed real, raw, deep emotion. He did not just create political music, social music, or music to create change, but he also created something that he really felt conveyed his love of music and his expressiveness.
Juice WRLD’s Death
Tragically, Juice WRLD passed away on December 8, 2019 of accidental overdose. He was arriving in Chicago’s Midway International Airport and suffered a seizure shortly after landing. He was quickly transported to a local hospital and was pronounced dead just hours later. Juice’s drug use was something that he wrote and spoke about extensively. “I smoke weed, and every now and then I slip up and do something that’s poor judgment,” he said. “I have a lot going for me, I recognize it’s a lot of big things, a lot of big looks. I want to be there, and you don’t have to overdose to not be there.” However, he did unfortunately overdose on toxic levels of both oxycodone and codeine, which are both very strong prescription painkillers. Several of the people who accompanied him on the flight were subsequently arrested for possession of firearms.Sadly, he is not the only famous musician to have passed away in recent years due to fatal drug overdoses. Lip Peep overdosed on fentanyl and xanax, and Mac Miller died as a result of an overdose of cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol in 2018. It reveals a tragedy inherent within the music and fame industries, but does not mar his legacy.The beauty of his emotional expression and vulnerability remains one of his greatest legacies. He still has music being released, and he has had collaborative projects that have been featured on top ten hot rap album lists, including work he completed with Eminem that led to a tribute on Eminem’s most recent album, Music to Be Murdered By.
Juice Wrld’s death is undoubtedly tragic, but he still remains an influential voice in music. With several hundred million streams of his posthumous album, he still has a huge following and his message still speaks to tons of people every year. Hopefully his death can be used to shed light on a very serious problem within the music industry and things will change in the future before more young talented lives are lost. Sources: