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Remembering Juice WRLD

"Juice WRLD, one of a crop of sweet-voiced singing rappers who emerged from the streaming platform SoundCloud in recent years, died on Sunday, the authorities said. He was 21," the New York Times reports.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office in Illinois confirmed the death in a statement.

Identifying the artist by his real name, it said Jarad A. Higgins, of Homewood, Ill., had been pronounced dead at 3:14 a.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. The cause of death was not available and an autopsy was to be done, the office said.

The rapper's sharp, catchy songs - which were often freestyled in only a few takes - combined the melodic hip-hop instincts of Lil Yachty, Post Malone and XXXTentacion with the heavy-hearted angst and nasal hooks of emo and pop-punk bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco.

"I've always been different," he told the New York Times last year. "I used to try to hide it a little bit, but now I have a platform for being different."

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Jessi Roti wrote for the Tribune in June 2018 that "no artist has had such seeming overnight success quite like Juice Wrld - the 19-year-old Calumet Park native who signed a reported $3 million deal with Interscope in March after his 2017 EP Juice Wrld 999 started racking up millions of streams on SoundCloud, thanks to singles 'Lucid Dreams' (currently No. 6 on Billboard's 'Hot 100') and 'All Girls Are the Same' (first featured on the three-song Nothings Different EP, amassing 48.3 million plays)."

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Juice WRLD was a "supernova," Max Cea writes for GQ. "Juice seemed like the SoundCloud artist best poised to persevere."

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"Born in Chicago on Dec. 2, 1998, he was raised in the south suburb of Homewood, Ill. He said his parents divorced when he was 3, and he was raised mainly by his mother, a student teacher who steered him toward gospel instead of hip-hop," the Washington Post reports.

Cousins introduced him to rappers including Lil Wayne and Meek Mill, and he soon learned piano, guitar and drums. By 16, he was putting songs on SoundCloud under the name JuiceTheKidd, inspired by the Tupac Shakur movie Juice. He later added World to his name, dropping the o to make himself more noticeable.

After graduating from Homewood-Flossmoor High School in 2017, he worked briefly at a car-parts factory and released several EPs. In 2018 he signed a reported $3 million deal with Interscope Records, despite having performed in public just once, for $100 at a party in front of classmates. "We feel that he can be the voice of his generation," label vice president Aaron "Dash" Sherrod later told Billboard.

Juice WRLD collaborated with artists including Lil Uzi Vert and Ellie Goulding, and partnered with Future to record the hit "Fine China," part of their 2018 mix tape Wrld on Drugs. He also joined YoungBoy Never Broke Again to release "Bandit," which reached No. 10 on the Hot 100 in October.

In recent months he had settled into a mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he rode dirt bikes, watched anime, played chess and recorded in his billiard room by night.

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"For a rapper whose songs were so bleak, Juice WRLD never felt like a dark figure," Alphonse Pierre writes for Pitchfork.

"Juice WRLD blurred the lines, his singsongy, piano-driven hip-hop about heartbreak and pain - and the drugs that numbed that heartbreak and pain - never felt like the work of a character, but a rapper who turned his personality up to 100."

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Five key songs and features via Variety.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on December 9, 2019


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