Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known as Juice WRLD, was born on December 2, 1998. I was born on October 27, 1998. Jarad was 21 when he passed away this past Sunday in his hometown of Chicago. I’m 21 right now. I can’t put into words how fucked up that is.
There will be many articles written about Juice WRLD in the coming days and, for the most part, people who are older than Juice and me will be the ones writing them. They will be written by writers who have more life experience and a better capacity for dealing with all of the fucking bullshit the world rains down on us. And so this article is for the generation of kids Juice WRLD saved through his music; for all of those high school and college students, like me, who feel as if they just lost a close friend.
The thing is, Juice WRLD was our generation’s Kid Cudi. Back in 2014, Cudi went on the Arsenio Hall Show and explained what drove him to create music: “All I wanted to do [with music] was help kids not feel alone and stop kids from committing suicide.” On “Empty,” the intro track on his sophomore album Death Race For Love, released this past March, Juice revealed a similar sentiment: “I was put here to lead the lost souls.” Just as it was for Cudi, that same selfless passion for helping others and making the world a better place could be found at the root of Juice WRLD’s music.
And boy, did we need Juice. Our generation is fucked up. We’re all struggling, anxious, and depressed. We’re living in an age defined by social media, where we always measure ourselves against unrealistic and unhealthy standards. Juice WRLD was a star recording artist, but he wasn’t exempt. He, too, was battling his demons, but he understood that millions of others were fighting battles similar to his. He took his struggle and his pain and put it all on wax for us. Through his music, he extended a hand to all the kids suffering in silence and let them know they were not alone. He gave us hope.
Did Juice have all the answers to our problems? No. A solution isn’t always needed, though. Just knowing there is someone else in this big, scary world who’s going through the same shit and understands you is enough. That was the beauty of Juice WRLD’s lyrics. Suffocating loneliness would melt away when Juice explored the mental struggle between not wanting to see anyone, yet being scared to be alone on “Ring Ring.”
When Juice, on “10 Feet,” raps about his belief in finding a little bit of heaven inside of his hell, hope would manifest. The all-out self-hyping on “I’m Still,” where Juice brags about the fact he’s still flexing despite having a broken heart, is the epitome of choosing yourself over your struggles.
There are hundreds of examples to pull from that highlight the goodness within his songs. Still, the thesis of Juice WRLD’s music is stated clearly in the second verse of “Rich And Blind”:
“This is dedicated to you if you felt the lowest of the low / I know how it feels, you don’t wanna struggle anymore.”
Juice WRLD made all of his music for us. And he was fucking good at it. “Lucid Dreams,” a bonafide hit, earned a Platinum certification six times over from the RIAA. He freestyled off the top of his dome—on multiple occasions—for over an hour with quality bars spilling from his mouth the entire time. His singing voice was heavenly when he let it loose; listen to the acoustic version of “Lean Wit Me” if you haven’t already. If you have, listen again. Juice WRLD loved music.
Juice WRLD was a hyper-talented soul with so much potential. He changed his own life, his family’s life, and the lives of countless others—and he was only 21. It’s so fucking unfair. He was still growing, still maturing. We can only wonder just how much good this kid could’ve done with a full life.
The lowest point of my life was the fall semester of my freshman year in college. I didn’t adjust well to moving away from home, leaving behind friends, family, and a newly ended relationship, and onto a campus full of strangers. My headspace wasn’t right when it was time to move in, and so I collapsed. I didn’t go to class. I drank almost every night. I never slept. My anxiety flared, and I sank into myself. I felt isolated and utterly alone.
But when I listened to Juice WRLD, I felt like someone got it. He wasn’t telling me to get my shit together. He didn’t judge me. Juice WRLD was the homie I needed. “Lean Wit Me,” with all its problematic messaging if taken out of context, gave me a feeling of solidarity. Every time I listened to “I’ll Be Fine,” I believed I would be okay in the end. I was drowning and gasping for air, but Juice WRLD helped pull me out from under the water.
Juice, thank you for everything. You deserve a million words. Your words, your heart, and your smile will not be forgotten. Rest in paradise.