Rapper Juice WRLD Dead at 21
‘Death Race for Love’ rapper suffered “medical emergency” in Chicago airport
Juice WRLD, the rising Chicago rapper who topped the album charts in 2019 with his acclaimed Death Race for Love, has died at the age of 21.
The rapper born Jarad Higgins reportedly suffered a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport on Sunday; he was rushed to a nearby hospital in “extremely critical condition” where he was pronounced dead, TMZ first reported. The Cook County medical examiner confirmed Higgins’ death to Rolling Stone. “The autopsy has not been performed at this time,” a spokesperson for the medical examiner said; the coroners office later stated that an autopsy would be performed Monday.
“A 21-year-old male suffered a medical emergency and was transferred to [Advocate Christ Medical Center] in Oak Lawn where he was pronounced dead,” a rep for the Chicago Police Department told Rolling Stone; authorities would not identify the male as the investigation was still pending. No cause of death was provided, but CPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Sun-Times that “no signs of foul play [were] evident to officers.” “Whether this is a narcotics issue or not is yet to be determined,” Guglielmi added.
Interscope Geffen A&M Records said of Higgins’ death in a statement, “Juice made a profound impact on the world in such a short period of time. He was a gentle soul, whose creativity knew no bounds, an exceptional human being and artist who loved and cared for his fans above everything else. To lose someone so kind and so close to our hearts is devastating. Our thoughts are with Juice’s family and friends, everyone at his label Grade A, and his millions of fans around the world.”
“Juice WRLD is one of the most ambitious, dynamic, and prolific artists of his time, with a unique style all his own,” Thomas Scherer, an EVP at BMG that administered the rapper’s music publishing, said in a statement. “Above all, as a person, he was kind, thoughtful, and generous. He had a vibrant soul, an authenticity full of energy, love, curiosity and music. We admire him as the person he was, as much as the person he was becoming. What he accomplished and achieved in such a short time, and at such a young age, is nothing short of extraordinary. We are absolutely devastated and mourn the loss of a young bright star gone far too soon.”
In just a two-year span, Juice WRLD landed three albums into the upper reaches of the album charts; it was a meteoric rise for an artist that seemed to arrive nearly fully formed thanks to an unmissable penchant for melody. His rise began in 2017 with a pair of singles uploaded quietly to SoundCloud. The first, “All Girls Are the Same,” immediately set off a label bidding war — he eventually signed to Interscope for a reported $3 million. But it was “Lucid Dreams,” the other single, that made him a star. The song still stands out as the platonic ideal of a Juice WRLD song: melancholic and unforgettably catchy. And with a beat constructed in part from a repurposed Sting sample, it fueled the then-teenager’s rise from his bedroom to stadium stages.
“I had no way of knowing that ‘Lucid Dreams’ was going to be the song to blow up, that it was going to be the catchy song.” Higgins told Rolling Stone earlier this year in the wake of the song’s rise to the top of the charts. “I just kind of go with the flow. You can get overconfident. It’s something that comes along with thinking too much, especially if you’re in a position of power. I just take everything as a blessing and keep it moving, keep evolving and keep pushing.”
Higgins made his full-length debut in 2018 with Goodbye & Good Riddance, with “Lucid Dreams” standing as the record’s centerpiece. While it wasn’t a critical favorite, it was a commercial juggernaut and announced him as a singular talent in an increasingly crowded hip-hop landscape. He followed it up with an even bigger statement: WRLD on Drugs, a collaborative mixtape with Future that peaked at Number Two on the album charts. While it was Higgins’ slightest project to date, pairing up with one of the most commanding rappers of the decade sent a clear message: Juice WRLD was here to stay.
“The way we clicked, we just thought, ‘We’ve got to keep this vibe, we’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to keep pushing,’” he said of the collaborative project. “We have so many songs that we didn’t even use, I have to go back on the old hard drives and go listen. We have at least 20 to 50 songs that we didn’t use, and I’ve got at least 50 to 100 that I haven’t used.”
Proving he was more than a one-hit wonder, Juice WRLD’s Death Race for Love placed Number 40 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2019 list. “People say that they can hear the rock influence, the Blink-182 influence, the emo influence in my music, but on this album you can hear ev-er-y-thing,” Juice WRLD told Rolling Stone. “I have songs for the trap house, songs for the sock hop, songs for the Caribbeans, songs for raves, songs for slow dancing.”
Recently, Higgins landed another hit with “Bandit” featuring NBA Youngboy; the single has already been viewed 78 million times on YouTube.
In July 2018, following the deaths of fellow young rappers Lil Peep and XXXTentacion, Juice WLRD released the Soundcloud single “Legends.” “What’s the 27 Club? / We ain’t making it past 21,” Higgins said on the track. “They tell me I’m a be a legend / I don’t want that title now / ‘Cause all the legends seem to die out / What the fuck is this about?”
The rapper also sat down with Rolling Stone for our First Time series, where Higgins discussed writing his first song in fifth grade, working with Future and hiding his music from his mother:
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He knows our hearts. I really wish we had more talks like that one night in LA. Dude. This is ridiculous. Millions of people, not just in Chicago but around the world are hurting because of this and don’t know what to make of it. Im sorry. Love you and God bless your soul. #legend
Juice WRLD was a thoughtful and gifted Artist who’s talent had immediate and enormous impact on millions. I always looked forward to seeing him. I’m so sad to know that won’t be possible anymore. My thoughts are with his Family and Friends. To have lived in a time #RIPJUICEWRLD
— Zane Lowe (@zanelowe) December 8, 2019