Juice WRLD‘s mother Carmela Wallace has opened up about the late rapper’s struggles with substance dependency, saying she “just felt like his best interest wasn’t being looked out for”.
The emo rapper (real name Jarad Higgins) died in 2019 from a drug-induced seizure at Chicago’s Midway airport. He was 21.
Wallace appeared on The Tamron Hall Show on Tuesday (January 11), reminiscing on Higgins’ legacy and pondering the heights to which his career would’ve grown had he not passed away. Alluding to Higgins’ close inner-circle of peers, she said: “I think people had their own agendas and they liked the lifestyle.
“And they were young too, so I have to give them that. They’re young, so they don’t see things the way we would see it. But I think that he just didn’t have the people in place to tell him to stop or to know [what was wrong]. He just didn’t have that support system in place.”
Wallace noted that Higgins had begun using drugs before his rap career took off, telling Hall that he was self-medicating with “the lean” (a mixture of codeine syrup and soft drink) and prescription pills. She said her son couldn’t hide his drug use from her “because it was in his music”, but the pair “were at a point where we could talk about it”.
“Y’know, he was an adult,” she continued, “he wasn’t living at home, but we still had that relationship where he felt comfortable talking about it.”
Wallace went on to say that she feared Higgins would inevitably overdose on drugs, and encouraged him to seek help with a psychologist. “But he was 19 and he knew everything,” she continued. “He figured he had it [under control], and the people around him… Some of them would reach out to me, but not the inner, inner-circle.”
When Hall broached the topic of rehab, Wallace said Higgins “sounded like” he was considering it after expressing an interest in seeking professional help. She recalled meeting up with Higgins several months before his passing, saying she “could tell there was a difference in him, that he wasn’t doing the lean”.
“I think he was still doing pills,” she continued, “but he told me he was ready to get help. It was just a special moment, y’know, we had that moment where I just knew he was going to overcome [his addiction].”
You can watch Wallace’s full interview on The Tamron Hall Show below:
The new interview comes just weeks after Wallace opened up about Live Free 999, a foundation she started in Juice WRLD’s honour. She explained then that the charity’s aim is “really to just normalise the conversation around mental health”, and “take the stigma away from” seeking help for mental illness.
Wallace noted that Live Free 999 contributes to various other organisations that follow the same goal, as well as those focussed on helping people through struggles with drug use. “Then we have another part of us that provides opportunities,” she continued, pointing to the charity’s merchandise as an avenue to give up-and-coming artists a chance to “showcase their talent”.
In that same interview, Wallace hit out at fans that leak unreleased Juice WRLD material, saying she “understand[s] they loved [Higgins]” and his music but that “there’s a proper way to do it” and “it’s a bit disrespectful to him to leak his music like that”.
Last month, HBO released a documentary covering Higgins’ rise as Juice WRLD, titled Into The Abyss. In addition to his trailblazing rap career, the film touched on Higgins’ struggles with mental illness, and how during his short time in the spotlight, he became “a therapist for millions of kids” and “a voice of that generation”.
Preceding the film’s release was the rapper’s second posthumous album as Juice WRLD (and fourth overall), ‘Fighting Demons’. In a four-star review of it, NME’s Kyann-Sian Williams praised it for being “much more sombre” than previous efforts, calling it “evidence of a nuanced, complex artist whose legacy is stunning in its richness”.
Last week, an animated music video was released for the track ‘Already Dead’.
For help and advice on mental health:
- ‘Am I depressed?‘ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day