Juice WRLD Leaves Behind a Devastating Legacy With “Legends Never Die”

Writing these articles on someone who passed away too soon are never easy. Jarad Higgins tragically passed away from a drug overdose after having a seizure. It was no secret about Juice WRLD’s addiction problems as he spoke on it himself. When it comes to transparency, it’s hard to find an artist that was more upfront about their issues like Juice. Fans attracted to him quickly because of his single “Lucid Dreams” from the 999 EP and soon the cult following came. He saw success early and fast, but wasn’t shy to show his transgressions on love and mental illnesses. His quick growth got him a collaboration project with Future called WRLD ON DRUGS. While it was a collab that no one expected, getting a co-sign from someone he has looked up to for so long was big for his career trajectory. Two months later he dropped his debut album Goodbye & Good Riddance, which included quite a few bangers that hit the Billboard top-100 (All Girls Are the Same, Lucid Dreams, Lean Wit Me and Armed and Dangerous). It felt like Juice was able to be himself more, showing that moody rap sound and taking it to the next level. “Lean Wit Me” is such a surreal track, it felt like a detailed downward spiral that had him meeting his day with death.

Juice WRLD was raw with his emotions, and expressed it on numerous occasions. Yet, it still felt like he was chasing commercial success. Sure tracks like “Armed and Dangerous” were awesome moments, but the rest of the album felt like he some growth to go through with expanding his sound of hip-hop and punk mesh. That’s where the difference lies in the artistry in his last album on Earth, Death Race For Love. The beginning of this album is hard-hitting, Juice at his absolute worst mentally. “Empty” shows just how much despair he is in with lyrics “I problem-solve with styrofoam.” Juice’s raspy singing voice intensified that serious pain he was feeling. Throughout this album, it seemed like he couldn’t find his way out of depression and heartbreak. Whether it was “Maze”, “HeMotions”, “Robbery”, “10 Feet” or “Fast” he was portraying every single thought and feeling with passion. Juice performs on sentimental production, but has the lyricism that hits you like an 18-wheeler. This album had the perfect mix of heart-throbs and party-anthems that were going to make his legacy undeniable.

Sadly, he didn’t get to grow out his resume like he wanted to. His talent level could have been beyond rap, but he was a hip-hop artist through-and-through. You see artists like Vic Mensa and Post Malone who make it in rap and decide they want to shift gears. However Juice WRLD was a rapper and song-writer that was realer than most can conceive. He could freestyle for hours, and make a hit-record in his sleep. The posthumous album that is dropped here, Legends Never Die, is a scary thing to go through on. You know the artist isn’t here to make the decisions, so you have to hope the label knows what they are doing. This album showed that Juice was well on his way to growing in a positive direction and new sounds with the same concepts.

The album kicks off with this spoken word “Anxiety” where they magically put together an interview of him speaking on other issues like anxiety and substance abuse. Juice addresses an audience at the end about chasing any dream they want. It’s fitting because of how much the “999” fan-base loved his message. The first actual track “Conversations” has a bouncy and glitzy beat, but the lyrical content is him facing demons. He sees the devil and is “Takin’ all these meds to the face” and “smoke ’til my mind frying, eyes red, high and crying” to escape the inevitable he has to face. You have a series of really sad and depressing tracks, like “Titanic”. This track portrays his thoughts on sinking, and his head space isn’t going to get any better. It’s a real hard-hitter to the feels on where Juice was at before his last days. “Bad Energy” is almost an extension of escaping this hell he is in, speaking on doing all of these drugs to drain out everything bad in his life. The beginning line “swallow all these pills with my pride” was a cry for help, like most of this album. This grandiose sadness in the production multiply those feelings.

The lead single “Righteous” speaks on those same topics, but it sounds like him coming down with wings on his back. Juice is singing this ballad from heaven. The sound is lovely and his voice is passionate. It really is the most beautiful song the Chicago rapper has ever made; and it’s heart-breaking at the same time. I think following up from that song is tough, “Blood On My Jeans” is a smooth mix of trap and emotional where Juice can flex a little bit about Maison Martin shirts, double-C’s on the shoes. It doesn’t break up the theme too much though, as the hook speaks on lean a good amount. From there you get a full track about his obsession with love with guest Trippie Redd on “Tell Me U Luv Me”. Trippie serenades the hook, begging to a woman to love him, while Juice is going psycho about this woman he is intimate with. It’s a topic Juice WRLD often raps and sings about, but the fixation of having passion for a woman almost ruins him mentally. It gets to the point where having to do some irrational stuff begins to conjure in his mind.

“Hate the Other Side” is one of the very few tracks I couldn’t get into, but Polo G gives the album a different voice. Polo once again shows why he is ready to put Chicago hip-hop on his back. The Kid LAROI feature was interesting, given he sounds like Trippie. Yet, they have been seen working together so it makes sense. This is one of the very few times where interludes are put together perfectly. “Get Through It (Interlude)” shows how amazing the album is sequenced, with a short message from Juice of getting through their issues by assuring them “just know that you do have the strength to get through whatever the fuck you goin’ through.” It’s sweet and to the point. “Life’s a Mess” is a super-gentle track about life being a complete pain, but finally finding the one he can be in a relationship with. Juice and Halsey do an incredible job getting their vocals together on the second half of the track. Her presence wraps the track up so nicely, even if I wish she had a little more presence. Juice and Marshmello get together on “Come & Go” and make the closest thing to sounding like a party-anthem you can have with the song detailing his thoughts of not wanting to mess this romance stage he is in. It is clearly rock-inspired, which is not shocking for someone like Juice WRLD.

Towards the second half of the album, the listener can find it to be very samey. The songs focus on the same topics of anxiety, substance abuse and love. “I Want It” is one of the few tracks that could have been kept in the vault. Its soft sound on the production and his voice makes for a somewhat boring track. “Fighting Demons” brings the album back up immediately, showing Juice passionately singing about his thoughts on money and fame only making things worse for him mentally. His straight-forward question after detailing how much money and fame he has “How come that shit don’t ever make me happy?” It brings you to a reality of knowing Juice was never going to find true happiness. “Wishing Well” once again shows his heartfelt singing voice come from the depths within him, hoping he can find any sort of happiness. The torture Juice must have been going through in his head is truly daunting. He fakes feeling fine, even admitting it in the pre-chorus “This is the part where I tell you I’m fine, but I’m lying/ I just don’t want you to worry.” THe track “Screw Juice” just sounds like he is just vibing effortlessly, as if making these type of tracks are nothing to him. Juice’s infatuation with love is once again depicted here, narrating Cupid doing a drive-by and shooting him so many times he bled through.

Once again, you have Juice telling the sad tale of drugs taking over his body on “Up, Up and Away”. You have so many tracks about the same topics, but Juice describes all of them like each day is a completely different situation. Whether it’s him drowning in an ocean, meeting the devil in flames or getting crushed into a million pieces, Juice can paint a vivid picture in so many different ways. That was the beauty of him as an artist. One of the craziest interludes “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” brings Young Thug, J. Cole, Travis Scott, Eminem, Lil Dicky and G-Herbo singing his praises. Thug was comparing Juice to 2006–09 Lil Wayne, Eminem was speaking on his perfection of free-styling, Dicky was speaking on making nothing but smash-hits seamlessly and then Herbo saying Juice was this generation’s Biggie. High praise from all walks of the hip-hop industry.

“Stay High” is an atmospheric ballad about having to stay high in order to balance his life situations he deals with on the regular. Definitely a track that could have been left off this album; it is Juice at his worst when it comes to singing. Not too much energy on there. However, “Can’t Die” starts off with this build-up to Juice speaking about death and not feeling alive. Although it sounds like he is at his most intoxicated, the emotion is raw and horrifying looking back on his death. The entire second verse hits me in the chest like a brick, “They tell me that I’m finna OD in no time/ I told ’em I’ll do it on my time, not your time.” It’s really a speechless moment to hear those lyrics in real time. The last song “Man of the Year” ends the album off on a great note, with a rock-influenced instrumental as Juice taps into his inner-rockstar he always was. It’s an a thorough ending to an album that needed that up-beat positive sound. Well, that is until the actual closer “Juice WRLD Speaks From Heaven” comes in and rips your fucking heart out. It’s a video from his Instagram live, but he says “I’m Instragram live-ing from heaven, I made it up there y’all booling.” This extravagant instrumental in the background just makes you want to sit in the corner of your room and ball your eyes out on what could have been.

This album confirmed two things after anticipating the release of Legends Never Die. First is that the label did right by Juice WRLD. They gave a full-blown project that didn’t overstay it’s welcome even with 21 tracks. It flowed perfectly and they were fully thought-out songs, and that seems to be the best thing about 2020. With the tragic passing of a lot of artists, they are left with someone else controlling their legacy with the music aspect. After seeing how XXXTentacion’s people handled his music career, basically milking every last drop of his voice to make a profit, none of the other labels wanted to follow that lead. Mac Miller’s album was crafted to perfection, Pop Smoke’s album made sense in the trajectory he was about to go in. It stayed true to who he was and told a story of a man who was lost and felt hopeless.

The second thing it confirmed is that Juice WRLD was one of the most talented artists we had in this new millennium of music. Juice was leading the charge in this moody, cross-over of rapping and mixing genres. Because instead of completely abandoning ship on hip-hop like a Post Malone, he stuck with his roots. Juice had shown time and time again he was an incredible songwriter and an amazing freestyler. The Westworld freestyle where he rapped for over an hour was truly mind-numbing. His story should not have ended as early as it did, he was going to reach new heights.

Here’s an album for you… Legends Never Die Juice WRLD https://open.spotify.com/album/1R6vbGGXSEZZmTGn7ewwRL?si=rTELhJwTQO-6e6KGtyAS3g

This posthumous release was super important. It left fans with incredible music that will last a life-time. This includes myself who was not the biggest fan from the beginning. It took some serious convincing to give his music a try thanks in large-part to my friend Paige Brown (shoutout Peg). Time and time again she spoke highly of Juice WRLD and eventually I caved, and was sold almost immediately. He didn’t shy away from who he was, which made listening to him such a genuine and authentic experience. That was the real Juice WRLD. He laid out every emotion for the world to see and his connection with the fans was what kept him striving for more success and happiness. It was his escape, I saw it live. Made in America in Philadelphia, 2019, Juice was by far the best performer that weekend. He gave me a whole other level of respect that I wasn’t expecting. That is how I know Juice was about the music. It was his only way of expressing himself and letting go of all problems. It’s horrible how his life ended, but Juice was captivating and his legacy lives on. He was honest with himself and everyone around him and that is what makes him so special. Rest in Power Jarad Higgins, thank you for the amazing music you left.

Score: 8.6/10

Hip-Hop and Sports writer extraordinaire. Follow me on Twitter: @bverrastro_10 and Instagram: brandanverrastro.