Only a few words can describe the emotional release of rapper Juice WRLD’s posthumous album Legends Never Die.
Legends Never Die comes eight months after the “Lucid Dreams” rapper’s death, just a few days following his 21st birthday. According to National Public Radio, Juice WRLD, his real name Jarad Anthony Higgins, suffered a seizure in Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on Dec. 8, 2019. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed via Twitter a month after the incident, the young artist’s cause of death was accidental “oxycodone and codeine toxicity.”
Regardless of his passing, Interscope Records, the record label the Chicago native was signed to, released his third full-length album amidst the coronavirus pandemic. According to NBC News, Higgin’s family released a statement on the late rapper’s Instagram authorizing the release of his music and projects, while expressing their gratitude to Juice WRLD supporters.
“ We plan to honor Juice’s talents, his spirits, and the love he felt for his fans by sharing unreleased music…” says the Grade A team and WRLD’s family.
Legends Never Die consists of 21 songs for a total listening time of 55 min. A number of other musicians, like Halsey, Marshmello, Trippie Redd and Polo G are featured on the album. Higgins doesn’t shy away from speaking on deep social issues that affected him personally. Topics of substance abuse, anxiety, mental health and death are recurring themes throughout the album. Songs like “Conversations”, “Stay High” and “Wishing Well” speak on these struggles that the artist faced and how his audience can relate to it.
Lyrics in “Wishing Well” such as “If it wasn’t for the pills, I wouldn’t be here but if I keep taking these pills I won’t be here” creates an ominous expression in relation to self care and wellness (Genius).
The album’s first song and introduction to the album is called “Anxiety,” which features the American rapper discussing mental health and addressing his fans during a conversation.
“…you know my relationship is good, I got money, but there’s still other issues to talk about other than heartbreak,” says Higgins in “Anxiety”.
Juice WRLD also spoke on love and relationships from his male perspective as well in his music; although his lyrics are versatile and can be relatable to a diverse group of people.
In terms of production, the project contains a variety of different instrumentals and genres. “Come and Go” is a rap-rock collaboration with Marshmello, an American DJ. This song is easily one of my favorites from Juice WRLD’s album since it has a very unique sound.
The album also includes very short interludes and clips of Higgin’s motivational messages, making listeners feel as if the artist is still physically present. Legends Never Die debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 album charts, making it the artist’s second No.1 album of his career. Juice WRLD’s posthumous album broke a number of records in the opening week of its release. According to Billboard, Higgins’ final project premiere is the biggest streaming week for a hip-hop album and/or for a male artist and fourth-largest streaming week ever for an album. The project earned almost 500,000 equivalent album units and had more than 420 million streams opening week.
The tragic passing of Higgins opens a broader discussion of hip-hop/rap culture. Unfortunately, Juice WRLD’s death was not an uncommon result of the culturalization or normalization of substance abuse and/or violent insinuations for younger audiences. Other artists, such as Mac Miller and Lil Peep, have also sadly passed due to personal struggles with substance abuse.
Prior to his death, Higgins released a single called “Legends” which spoke on the pattern of popular and talented artists passing away, (before or at the age of 21), and their legacies left behind usually before the artist gets to experience their success.
Although it’s important for musicians to be able to express themselves and share their experiences with their fan base, it’s troubling to know that some deaths could’ve been avoidable. Listening to young deceased artists’ music feels bittersweet, and almost like some of their lyrics were distress signals. Sometimes it could be more than simply “words to a song” and is an actual expression, which is very concerning and should always be taken seriously.
“His diaristic laments aren’t sanitized or watered down in an attempt to mute the pain of his reality, and thus, under the circumstances, these songs feel especially brutal and honest,” says Apple Music.
Juice WRLD’s latest album is a libretto of eerie, emotional and explicit. The late musical artist leaves a career worthy of being called legendary.
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