Juice WRLD, the Chicago rapper at the forefront of the emo-rap movement, died on December 8 at the young age of 21.
In March this year, shortly after the release of his second album ‘Death Race For Love’, the star was profiled in our weekly Big Read series and shot for the NME cover by NME‘s Andy Ford in London. Here are a selection of images from that shoot, some of them never before seen by the public.
Juice WRLD was born Jarad Higgins in Chicago in 1998. He began releasing music on Soundcloud in 2015 under the name JuicetheKidd, before later switching to JuiceWRLD, the name under which he would find great success.
The rapper cited a diverse range of influences on his music, from Nirvana and U2 to Lil Wayne and Migos. “The people I looked up to put their demons out there,” he told NME of his love for Kurt Cobain in March 2019.
Juice WRLD released his debut album ‘Goodbye And Good Riddance’ in May 2018. The record reached Number 25 on the Official UK Albums Chart and Number Four on the US Billboard chart, and featured a guest appearance from Lil Uzi Vert on ‘Wasted’.
One of Higgins’ biggest songs, ‘Lucid Dreams’, also featured on that album. The track made use of the Spanish guitar riff from Sting‘s 1993 single ‘Shape Of My Heart.
One of the leading lights of emo-rap, Higgins told NME earlier this year his music had a purpose beyond helping himself. “I don’t just [make emotional music] for myself,” he said. “I do it to help other people through their situations. I guess I supposedly save lives. People tell me all the time that I save their lives.”
The rapper’s second album ‘Death Race For Love’ was released in March 2019 and gave him his first Billboard Number One. It also reached the Top 20 in 15 other countries, including the UK.
In a four-star review of ‘Death Race For Love’, NME‘s Thomas Hobbs wrote: “‘Death Race For Love’ most recalls XXXTentacion’s equally versatile ‘?’ album, which also moved from tender falsettos to dark, existential screams at a blistering pace. Yet Juice WRLD is far less indulgent than XXX, not getting lost in the idea that he’s a messianic creative. This will be the moment that solidifies his status as one of rap’s most exciting new stars.”
According to Ski Mask The Slump God, he and Higgins had worked together on another mixtape called ‘Evil Twin’ that would be released in 2019. At present, it has yet to arrive.
Juice WRLD was selected to support Nicki Minaj on her tour in 2019, dubbed the Nicki Wrld tour. Of performing at big shows, he told NME: “I love performing in stadiums. I love it. There’s nothing like it. When it’s a full house and everybody’s having a good time and vibing? It’s fun – it’s lit. I don’t gotta jump around as much, either. I used to wear myself out after every concert, crawling backstage almost.”
“Some artists not only have good music but good personalities as well,” Higgins told NME earlier this year. “I don’t wanna brag on myself, but people have told me that my personality matches my music – as in it has quality, as in it’s genuine and it’s real.”