Juice WRLD Dies at 21; Chicago Rapper Whose Star Was on the Rise

Juice WRLD, one of a crop of sweet-voiced singing rappers who emerged from the streaming platform SoundCloud in recent years, died on Sunday in a hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. He was 21.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Illinois, identifying him by his real name, said Jarad A. Higgins was pronounced dead at 3:14 a.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center. No cause was given, and the office said an autopsy would be performed. He lived in Homewood, Ill., a Chicago suburb.

Juice WRLD’s sharp, catchy songs, which were often freestyled in only a few takes, combined the melodic hip-hop instincts of Lil Yachty, Post Malone and XXXTentacion with the heavy-hearted angst and nasal hooks of emo and pop-punk bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco.

His first album, “Goodbye & Good Riddance,” was released in 2018 and eventually certified platinum; its follow-up, “Death Race for Love,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in March. In between, he released “Wrld on Drugs,” a collaborative mixtape with the rapper Future, a stylistic forebear who seemed glad to pass the torch.

Juice WRLD frequently touched on themes of mental health, suffering and mortality in his music.

In June 2018, following the deaths of two of his musical contemporaries, XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, he released a two-track EP online titled “Too Soon.” It includes the song “Legends,” in which he sings, “They tell me I’ma be a legend/I don’t want that title now/‘Cause all the legends seem to die out.”

Fellow rappers and collaborators expressed their shock on social media. Chance the Rapper called Juice WRLD “a young legend” on Twitter. Ellie Goulding, who sang with Juice WRLD on the song “Hate Me,” wrote, “You had so much further to go, you were just getting started.”

Interscope Records said in a statement on Sunday: “Juice made a profound impact on the world in such a short period of time. He was a gentle soul whose creativity knew no bounds.”

Jarad Anthony Higgins was born in Chicago on Dec. 2, 1998. He was raised there largely by a single mother, coming to music through childhood piano lessons and from listening to local rappers like Kanye West and Chief Keef, along with rock acts like Senses Fail, Paramore and Billy Idol. And while his unique combination of influences made for a decidedly nonregional sound, he would eventually fall directly into Chicago’s rap music lineage, with management and career guidance from the local artist Lil Bibby and his brother G-Money.

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