Juice WRLD was on a mission to find other like-minded people and to feel a part of something meaningful. And he did. He found solace in his thoughts and pain with the one thing most musicians have come to depend on. Drugs.
Though Juice is no longer with us, his songs have left a lasting impression on all who have fallen in love with them. He continues to break records and accomplish things most won't. This Black History Month, as well as every day, we honor him.
Here is the life and times of Juice WRLD.
Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known as Juice Wrld, was born on December 2, 1998, in Chicago, Illinois.
Juice Wrld is best known as being from Calumet Park, a south suburb in Cook County, Illinois. However, as a one-year-old, he moved to Homewood, Illinois, with his parents and older brother and spent most of his childhood moving around. When he was three years old, his parents divorced, leaving his mother, Carmella Wallace, to raise him and an older brother as a single parent. In June 2019, Juice Wrld announced the passing of his father to his fans on social media. Juice Wrld never revealed the cost of his father's death, but he reportedly had difficulty processing it.
Juice revealed that growing up his mother was very religious and conservative. Because of this, she did not allow him to listen to hip-hop music. Consequently, Juice Wrld would later come into contact with rock music through video games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Guitar Hero. At age four, he learned to play the piano. In later years, he also took lessons in guitar and drums. Additionally, he played trumpet in the band.
Juice was not a top student in high school, but he was imaginative and creative. During his sophomore year, he started sharing music on SoundCloud that he recorded on his phone. Juice credited artists such as Tyler, The Creator, Future, Panic! At the Disco, and others as influences behind his music. However, in his interview with The New York Times's Jon Caramanica, Juice talked about his first encounter with drugs, admitting to taking Xanax heavily in high school but was trying to limit his drug use.
"I smoke weed, and every now and then, I slip up and do something that's poor judgment," Juice 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 [sic] to not be there."
However, Juice couldn't stay away from the drugs he had grown dependent on for so long, a habit that would ultimately take his life. He first started to use Percocets during his first year of high school and continued to use them while becoming more aware of popular drug-saturated music.
"Coming from someone that was really in that s**t, for the ni**as that's really doing it, it wasn't because of no trend—like motherf**kers were really addicted out here," Juice said. "For example, my freshman year, I ran into some percocets—my freshman year, 14, 15, 13 years old. Two years later, three years later, Future drops 56 nights—by the way, Future is the goat—Future drops '56 nights'. Ni**gas is hitting up my phone like 'where you get all those percs from and Xans' cause it's the music. I don't know if I said this earlier in here or having a convo with somebody else but hearing that music at such a young age—I was trying to sip Lean (codeine or promethazine, mixed with soda) in the sixth grade, listening to 'Dirty Sprite'".
On Jan. 30, 2016, Juice, at the time known as JuiceTheKidd, had released his debut album, "JUICED UP THE EP," on his SoundCloud. There was an exponential increase in the popularity of SoundCloud rappers, and Juice was no exception. His melancholic tone and emo-rap made him extremely widespread on the music-sharing app. Juice revealed that he knew nothing about promoting his music; he just did what felt right to him.
"When my SoundCloud was going up with no promotion. I didn't know anything about promoting, I was just doing what I knew and that was posting music," Juice said. "I have a very big library of shit that I like to listen to and that's how I communicate, through making music. It was natural, I never paid for promotion or bought followers. It's always been authentic, and when I took a step back from everything and realized that's what it was, that's when I was like, 'Okay, this is me.'"
At that moment, Juice decided that he wasn't going to live his life for anyone else's approval and just started to do things his way.
"One day I realized that I'm not living anybody else's life but mine. I feel like people try to live other people's lives or worry about what other people think about their life," Juice said. "That's not the way to live at all. I realized that's it my life and that I'm the one painting the picture that's going to be left, so why not do everything my way?"
In June 2017, Juice released his full-length debut EP, "Juice Wrld 9 9 9," that featured his break-out song, "Lucid Dreams." The track produced by Nick Mira accumulated over 2.5 million plays on SoundCloud, making it his most streamed track on the website to date.
Juice told Billboard that the song was written while he was still in high school, starting with the chorus and working his way to the verse and piecing the song together like a puzzle.
"As far as me in the studio whatever I have, if I have something written I just take it in and lay it down," Juice said. "It didn't take long to record it at all either. Probably took about 20 minutes, maybe less than that. You know most of the songs I have out, I didn't actually write it, I freestyled it. It was improvised in the studio."
The rapper would reveal that lucid dreaming and the experiences he and people he knew faced contributed to creating the infamous song.
"I was lucid dreaming a lot and that along with some of the stuff that me," Juice said. "and some people I know were going through just clashed together and made a song."
After the popularity of "Lucid Dreams" and "All girls are the same," Juice would sign a $3 million deal with Interscope records. Re-releasing "Lucid Dreams," officially, with the backing of Interscope, the song would debut at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, compared to no. 74 in 2017.
In May 2018, Juice released his debut studio album, "Goodbye & Good Riddance." The album would debut at no. 15 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts and eventually push to no. 6 in its third week. Goodbye & Good Riddance was certified triple platinum posthumously in October.
During an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 radio, Juice shared that he created the album to help his fans with through similar situations while sharing his own.
"I'm just trying to make music to help people through their situations and tell them about some of my own. It's all genuine, so I think that's what adds to it," Juice said. "Back in high school, even before that, I was good at freestyling. Then I started rapping, and I recorded a few records that didn't have any substance. I thought 'why not put my heart into what I'm making?'"
In August, Juice WRLD made his late-night television debut, performing "Lucid Dreams" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
The performance opens with two people playing the track's acoustic guitar loop on a Guitar Hero-style game set up on stage. Juice performed in a black punk tank top, and jeans scrawled with Adidas Originals White Doodle Sneakers, backed by a three-piece band.
In the same month, Juice would perform at the MTV Video Music Awards for the first time. His leading single was nominated for song of the summer at the VMAs but would lose to Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J. Balvin's "I like it."
Juice will release his second studio album, "Death Race for Love," in March 2019, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It was Juice's first US number-one album. The 22-track LP went double platinum posthumously in October.
Juice was named an inductee into Spotify's RapCaviar Pantheon with a life-sized sculpture the following month. Alongside Cardi B, Jaden Smith, and Gunna, Juice was one of the innovators who made an indelible mark on hip-hop.
According to Spotify's press release, Juice's sculpture was inspired by the mythological Greek Titan Atlas.
"Juice WRLD's blurring of the lines between hip-hop, pop, rap, and emo makes him a breakout in every sense of the word—not to mention his debut single, "Lucid Dreams," which has over 700 million streams on Spotify. His sculpture is inspired by the idea of mythological Greek Titan Atlas—who was condemned to carry the universe—at rest, a nod to the vulnerability in his music."
It continued to be a good year for the young artist; he would replace rapper Future on the European leg of Nicki Minaj's The Nicki WRLD tour and win Best New Artist at the Billboard Music Awards.
Juice would beat Ella Mai, Lil Baby, Bazzi, and Dua Lipa for the notable award. Juice would be joined by his mother while accepting his award.
"Wow. It's crazy *inaudible* of all the stuff that can happen in a year. It's ridiculous. I just want to thank God," Juice said. "I want to thank all of my supporters. I want to thank all of my fans, and I am glad to be here. It's a blessing."
In September, Juice would be named one of Billboard's 21 under 21 honorees. On the list, Billboard listed the Chicago rapper's achievements, including four songs in the top 40 of the Hot 100 and over 6.5 billion streams.
In November, Juice would have his last live performance, as he performed in Ballarat, Australia, at Spilt Milk Festival, after a string of dates in Australia and New Zealand.
Footage from the final tour includes an hour-long video of his performance at Festival Hall in Melbourne.
On Dec. 8, a week after turning 21, Juice WRLD would suffer a seizure shortly after arriving at Chicago's Midway International Airport. He would pass away a short time later, at a nearby hospital. It would later be confirmed that an accidental overdose brought on Juice's seizure after swallowing an unconfirmed amount of Percocet pills.
On Dec. 15, a week after the passing of Juice WRLD, the organizers of the Hip-Hop festival, Rolling Loud, and Juice's family and friends organized a tribute to the late rapper.
Instead of replacing the rapper who was scheduled to perform at the festival, the organizers decided to have friends of Juice perform his songs.
Tariq Cherif, the co-founder of Rolling Loud, told the Chicago Tribune that it was vital to help the families of late rappers keep their legacies alive. The founders became familiar with the routine after the passings of XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, both performed at Rolling Loud before their untimely deaths.
"It's something that we're familiar with, putting together these tribute sets," Cherif said. "The families of the artists need to keep the legacy going, and it's important for the fans to give them a time to get their feelings out about it."
Juice's long-time friends G Herbo, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Ski Mask The Slump God all performed some of Juice's massive hits including, "Honestly" and "Nuketown." In addition, concertgoers would sing along to "Lucid Dreams," along with Juice's vocals.
In Jan. 2020, Juice's first posthumous music appearance was on Eminem's "Godzilla" on his eleventh studio album, "Music to Be Murdered By." The track would peak at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, his first top 10 since his passing the previous month.
Juice WRLD was honored with a moving tribute at the 2020 NAACP awards honored the following month. In the touching video, Juice, accompanied by Bushwick Bill of Geto Boys, Nipsey Hussle was honored with Kobe and Gianna Bryant. They spread their retired jerseys alongside a basketball hoop.
In April, Juice's first solo posthumous track, "Righteous," was released by his estate. According to an Instagram post, sharing his unreleased music was not an easy decision, but considering the love Juice had for his fans, they felt it was the right thing to do.
"Juice was a prolific artist who dedicated his life to making music," the statement reads. "Choosing how to share his upcoming music with the world has been no easy feat. Honoring the love Juice felt for his fans while shining a light on his talents and his spirit are the most important parts of this process to us. Earlier this week, Juice's mother, Carmella Wallace announced the establishment of the Live Free 999 Fund which will receive additional support via Grade A and Interscope. Tonight we are releasing a song called "Righteous" which Juice made from his home studio in Los Angeles. We hope you enjoy this new music and continue to keep Juice's spirit alive. Stay safe everyone. Love Carmella Wallace, Juice's family, and the Grade A team."
In July 2020, Juice's first posthumous album, "Legends Never Die," was released, quickly becoming Juice's first number one album since his passing eight months prior. The 22-track LP debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, selling almost 500K copies in its first week. In addition, 17 of the 22 tracks were charted, making him the third artist to achieve this after The Beatles and Drake, making it the most successful album from an artist who has passed in 20 years.
In May, Juice's estate re-released his debut album "Goodbye & Good Riddance" with two new songs, "734" and the highly anticipated remix of "Lucid Dreams" featuring Lil Uzi Vert.
The estate of Juice announced in November, that his second posthumous album, "Fighting Demons," and his documentary film, "Juice World: Into the Abyss," would be released on December 10.
"There was nothing Jarad “Juice WRLD” Higgins enjoyed more than delivering new music to his millions of fans around the world. He left behind an astonishingly deep catalog of music that will ensure his fans will have new songs to listen to for years to come," the statement reads. "Jarad was always searingly honest about his struggles and through his musical genius he articulated what was on his heart and mind vividly through his art. He never gave up and his friends and family never gave up on offering their support to him. Today we announce a new album Fighting Demons out December 10. We encourage all of you who struggle with addiction and mental health to never give up the fight. We continue to extend free support to you via LiveFree999.org created in his honor."
On Dec. 9, two years after Juice's death, "Juice Wrld Day" was established in his hometown of Chicago, IL. Several memorable moments occurred at the nearly sold-out event, including words from Lyrical Lemonade's founder Cole Bennett, who has directed many of Juice's music videos, including "Lucid Dreams," and Wallace, Juice's mother.
""I feel it, I feel your love. I appreciate it. Jared loved his mom and he would have loved the love you all are showing me. He loved you guys, Jared made music for you guys and he spoke to you through his music. He helped you through his music. My son touched your lives and he's still touching lives," Wallace said. "Jared also dealt with anxiety depression and he didn't hide it from you guys. It helped you when he talked about it. He let you know that it's okay to feel that way and there is nothing wrong with you. If you suffer with anxiety or depression or you have a dependency on something you just can't kick. He loved you all and I'm here to let you know it's going to be okay. We're going to be okay."
Fans also had the opportunity to see the upcoming documentary, "Juice WRLD: Into The Abyss," and performances from Ski Mask the Slump God, Trippie Redd, and more.
"Fighting Demons" debuted at no. 2 on the US Billboard 200 with 119,000 in its first week, falling short of the previous album, "Legends Never Die."
Juice's documentary, "Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss," directed by Tommy Oliver, showed significant moments of Juice's life, moments of his death, and how it has impacted those close to him. The documentary premiered at the American Film Institute (AFI) Festival and won the AFI Fest Documentary Audience Award.
Juice continues to reach heights beyond his wildest dreams, two years after his passing. On Monday, his breakthrough single, "Lucid Dreams," achieved Diamond certification after selling more than 10 million copies. The track is the first Diamond certification of Juice's career and the first for a rapper in 2022.
Juice WRLD impacted Gen-Z society with his music of heartbreak, loneliness, and drug abuse. Although he attempted to stay drug-free and be the big brother that most of his fans needed, it was ultimately the drugs that prevented Juice from accomplishing more during his career and took him away from those who needed him most. Nevertheless, his music continues to speak to the sad and lonely and the unspoken, and in return, they continue to keep his spirit and legacy alive.