Man of The Year: Juice Wrld

Legends Never Die


Over a year after his untimely death, American Rapper, Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known as Juice Wrld is still on the minds of fans and many of the biggest industry veterans in the music industry. But why? That’s easy, because legends like Juice Wrld never die. They live in our hearts and minds for eternity. In a pool of endless talent, Juice is considered one of the greatest contemporary rappers of the 21st Century, and guess what? They were right. Let’s take a moment as we will delve into a brief history of why Juice Wrld was well-respected by his musical peers, and how his slow start on the music scene eventually earned him millions of dollars and Billboard Music Awards “Top New Artist” of 2019, due to his hit, “Lucid Dreams.”


On December 2, 1998, American Rapper, Jarad Anthony Higgins, was born in Chicago, Illinois, spending much of his childhood in the southern suburb neighborhood of Calumet Park before settling in Homewood. Raised by his mother since his parent’s divorce when Jared was just three, he spent days with his brother sneaking as much hip-hop music as he could get his hands on because his extremely religious mother disapproved of the hip-hop culture, and at her urging, Jared became a trained pianist, followed by learning to play both the guitar and drums, and even played trumpet for his school band. But none of this stopped Juice, music was in his DNA. Since he was allowed to listen to rock and pop music, he absorbed as much music from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Guitar Hero, which caused the prodigy to take a keen interest in the sounds of artists like Billy Idol, Blink-182, Black Sabbath, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at the Disco which eventually influenced Juice Wrld‘s own sound.


Juice Wrld was also heavily influenced by Chicago rappers Lil Durk and Chief Keef, according to When Juice Wrld first started rapping, he originally went by the alias, “Juice TheKidd.” But over time settled on Juice Wrld as his stage name paying homage to the late great rapper Tupac Shakur and his role in the film Juice. Around this time, Juice uploaded his songs online to SoundCloud which he recorded on his smartphone, but what happened next was a surprise to everyone. Just a sophomore in high school, in 2017 his tracks started to go viral, as he watched his numbers of streams continue to rise on a consistent basis. This led Juice Wrld to dropped his first EP called 999 in 2017.


“In the last book of the Bible, it says that 666 is the mark of the beast, right?” Juice Wrld explained, “999 represents taking whatever hell, whatever bad situation or whatever struggle you’re going through and turning it into something positive and using it to push yourself forward.” – Juice Wrld, MTV 2018


And that is when his world as he knew it changed. In 2018, Juice released what will be considered his most famous song, “Lucid Dreams” and catapulted him into the rap world making him a legit member of the rap world. With over 8 billion streams on Spotify, he followed up the single with his first album “Goodbye & Good Riddance,” which went certified platinum and documented his struggles with his drug addiction and heartbreak through his lyrics. It didn’t take long for other respected artists to begin to collaborate with Juice like Future which released a single called, “Legends” honoring the death of rappers Lil Peep and XXXXTentacion.



In 2019, Juice Wrld released his second album called “Death Race For Love.” The album was once again about battling his struggles to stop and remove drugs from his life completely. The album was well-received, with hit songs like “Robbery” and “Hear Me Calling.” It wasn’t uncommon to hear both industry veterans, peers, and fans proclaim after this album, that Juice Wrld was incapable of producing a bad song. His music was so good, and versatile, that it resonated with everyone no matter what type of musical genre you preferred, it was impossible to love his music. No one was shocked when his sophomore album reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.


Carrying on by collaborating with many artists on songs, he recorded the songs “Bandit” with NBA Youngboy, “Hate Me” with Ellie Goulding, “Without Me” with Halsey, and “Graduation” with Benny Blanco.  On October 4, 2019, Juice Wrld would release his final song, “Bandit” with NBA Youngboy, and would perform his last concert on November 28, 2019.


The hip-hop world changed forever on December 8, 2019. While returning aboard a private Gulfstream charter jet via Van Nuys Airport, Los Angeles, to Chicago Midway, the plane made an emergency call to federal authorities notifying them of suspected drug activity and firearms on the charter. Afraid of getting arrested, the rapper’s management and entourage, told law enforcement officials, Juice had ingested several unknown pills, including a significant amount of Percocet in order to hide them from the police during the search of his luggage.


At this time, Juice Wrld began convulsing and it was apparent he was having a serious medical emergency due to a drug-induced seizure.  The Chicago Fire Department was immediately notified and disbursed, but upon their arrival, Juice Wrld had gone into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the Advocate Christ Medical Center, and despite administrating two doses of Narcan, at 3:15 Juice Wrld was pronounced dead of an apparent overdose reported by the Associated Press. On January 22, 2020, the medical examiner released a statement that Higgins’s toxicology report indicated he died as a result of toxic levels of oxycodone and codeine in his system. 


Juice Wrld
December 2, 1998 – December 8, 2019
R.I.P. 999

“If anybody’s going through anything
I hope and I pray that you get through it
And just know that you do have the strength to get through
Whatever you goin’ through
No matter what it is.”

– Get Thru It (Interlude)/ Juice Wrld


Needless to say, when news broke, shock and sadness were felt by everyone over the loss of another legend’s premature death. Juice Wrld was 21 when he died. The last words Juice Wrld shared to his fans was, “I love y’all more than life itself” per the UK’s Daily Mail. His first posthumous album, “Legends Never Die” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album was the most successful posthumous chart debut in over 20 years. 


Halsey's Tattoo Tribute to Juice Wrld 999
Photo courtesy of tattoo artist Noah Lee 


“Juice was one of the greatest people I have ever known, and one of the most brilliant artists we will ever live to witness. A true genius who had lyric and melody spilling out of him without any second thought or hesitation. And a beautiful soul who believed in spreading love and creating a community for people to feel less alone. It means everything to me that I could be a part of this album. I cried the first time that I heard it. With all the love in my heart, #lljw – “Life’s A Mess”  – Halsey



It is important to me to end this article with a message to all of you. Never think anything is impossible. Never tell yourself that you’re not good enough. Never think just because you failed once means you’re a failure. I want you all to walk away from this tragedy and honor that life is short. We don’t know our exploration date, and each of us only has so much time before it’s gone. Walk through life with a smile on your face. Don’t let bad people bring you down.  And no matter what people think just believe in yourself and know you can do it. Never give up.

– Devin