Jarad Anthony Higgins, aka the late rapper Juice WRLD, died of a drug overdose on December 8, 2019, just days after his 21st birthday.
But his premature passing is obviously fueling massive interest in a compilation of his previously recorded songs. As of this writing, his newly released third album, Legends Never Die, is on track for the biggest debut of 2020, with an estimated 440,000 units sold and 400 million on-demand audio streams in the album’s first week.
Featuring collaborations with Halsey, Marshmello and Trippie Redd, this 21-track effort combines rap, hip-hop, guitar and alternative vibes with strong messages from a young man who wrestled with addiction, self-worth and the desire to be free from internal pain.
In his introductory track, “Anxiety,” Juice WRLD encourages his fans to realize that life is full of real issues that go beyond a desire for material possessions: “At the end of the day I still thank God for everything that, you know, He’s put in front of me/But this materialistic money stuff don’t really mean nothin’, like, you know my relationship is good, I got money, but there’s still other issues to talk about other than heartbreak (Right)/You’ve got anxiety, you’ve got substance abuse … ”
Juice WRLD’s struggle with mental illness and his desire to overcome his internal battles show up on many tracks, including “Titanic,” (“There’s a lot going on in my head right now/But I manage/… Both hands in the air as I scream out prayers/My demons show their face in the midnight air”), “Bad Energy” and “Fighting Demons,” to name a few.
“Life’s a Mess” encourages listeners to push through heartbreak and to realize that everything will be OK: “Don’t throw in the towel, I know it feels like you’re the only one trying/You just gotta learn to live and love on.” And on “Come & Go,” Juice WRLD wants to be a better man (“I pray to God that He make me a better man/Maybe one day, I’ma stand for somethin’”).
On “Blood on My Jeans,” Juice WRLD makes it clear that he is faithful to one woman and isn’t interested in cheating (though he does so using profanity to make that otherwise positive point).
Juice WRLD talks frequently about drugs and alcohol, as we’ll soon see. That said, many of his references to using those substances have a confessional feel. Juice WRLD recognizes their destructive influence in his life, even if he feels powerless to stop making those addiction-influenced choices.
“Righteous” along with many other tracks, speaks to a deep despair and void that Juice WRLD tries to fill with drugs: “Five or six pills in my right hand, yeah/Codeine runneth over on my nightstand/Takin’ medicine to fix all of the damage/My anxiety the size of a planet.” And on “Stay High,” he says: “I can’t help myself/I get so d–n high that I can’t feel myself.” Juice WRLD likewise talks about being “married to my highs” on “Bad Energy” and discusses numbing his pain with codeine, marijuana, oxycodone and alcohol on many tracks.
Codependency and an unhealthy love life are featured in “Tell Me U Luv Me” (“B–ch, I’m a druggie/So can you hide my drugs from me?/And when I get lonely/Can you be my company?”) and “Come & Go.” In “I Want It,” sex is described in graphic, vulgar terms.
Violence is referenced on a few tracks, such as “Stay High,” “Hate the Other Side” and “Blood on My Jeans.” And on “Tell Me U Luv Me” he threatens to kill his girlfriend if she ever leaves him.
Profanities including the f-word, “d—n,” “b–ch” and “h—” frequent many a song.
This album isn’t what you’d expect, especially when you see it labeled as explicit. Don’t get me wrong, it is filled with problematic content, but for reasons that deviate from the norm.
Legends Never Die finds Juice WRLD looking honestly at the depths of his own mind as he wrestles to be free from dark thoughts, a painful past and intense addiction. So if you’re looking for a piece of work that avoids dealing with the effects of substance abuse and depression, you won’t find that here.
As for positives, Juice WRLD admits that all the money and material possessions in the world will never make him happy. Instead, he would rather have love, close relationships and freedom from his flaws. And Juice WRLD makes it clear that he believes in fidelity and in crying out to God for help.
But for many of its shining moments, this album still packs its share of serious issues. No matter how hard he may try, Juice WRLD cannot seem to break free from darkness, including a fascination with death and a serious struggle with anxiety and depression. Similarly, drug and alcohol consumption are referenced on nearly every track. Songs also include explicit, frequent language, occasional violence and a few references to sex.
Ultimately, the 21 songs on this posthumous effort are difficult to listen to—even when they’re at their most redemptive.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).