By Ian Park
Rapper Juice WRLD’s posthumous album released on Friday — “Legends Never Die” — is dominating the charts, taking 18 of the top 20 songs on Apple Music as well as 20 of the top 25 songs on Spotify in the United States upon its release.
The announcement came on July 6 through Juice WRLD’s Instagram account, with a 40-second interview-style video and a post about the album. Juice’s family and Grade A/Interscope Records also released two singles — “Life’s a Mess,” featuring Halsey and “Come and Go,” featuring Marshmello, without warning on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
Juice opens with “Anxiety – Intro,” a snippet of a candid 2019 IRL interview with Genius, where he speaks about his anxiety and lifelong struggles with drug abuse.
“I got money, but there’s still other issues to talk about other than heartbreak,” he says. “You’ve got anxiety, you’ve got substance abuse, you’ve got, you know, and there’s a lot of issues in the world to talk about.”
The first half of the album follows his trademark mellow emo-rap style, with tracks like “Conversations” and “Bad Energy,” reflecting on how overwhelmed Juice felt with his celebrity lifestyle. Both songs touch on how his coping with drugs as a temporary solution left him feeling out of touch with the real world.
The raw emotion and bars of standout track “Titanic” compare his own mental health and drug abuse with the namesake tragedy of the 1912 cruise liner. “Abandon all ships, it’s about to go down / I’m Titanic,” he sings.
What’s more, through producers’ interesting choice of two interludes, listeners get an intimate view of Juice’s personality and untapped potential from the point-of-view of his peers. In “The Man, The Myth, The Legend – Interlude,” some of the biggest rappers today, including Young Thug, Travis Scott, J. Cole, Eminem and Lil Dicky, all praise Juice’s exceptional potential and freestyle talent.
However, the highlights of “Legends Never Die” were undoubtedly the more upbeat, rap-heavy songs which showcased his energy while staying true to the darker theme of the album.
In “Stay High,” Juice manages to navigate a catchy hook and clean bare-bones production while approaching his aggressive fast-flow style seen frequently in his previous project “Death Race For Love.”
With the refreshingly uplifting tracks “Up Up And Away,” and “Man of The Year,” Juice hearkens back to earlier singles like “Hate Me,” and “Graduation,” which all masterfully incorporate deeply personal lyrics with more lively, captivating delivery.
Juice’s project features are always on point, and although he only has a few, “Legends Never Die” is no exception. The upbeat styles of notable features such as Halsey, Trippie Redd, Polo G, Marshmello and The Kid Laroi complement the energy Juice brings to songs like the pre-released single “Come & Go” and “Hate The Other Side,” which seamlessly transitions between all four artists.
Unfortunately, although the narrative of Juice’s lifelong struggles with anxiety and drug abuse was moving, it often felt as if the message was getting diluted and repetitive. Particularly in the first half of the album, the tracks began blending with one another, and there wasn’t enough distinction between songs and even within verses.
“Blood On My Jeans” and “I Want It,” are both incredibly forgettable and don’t serve any purpose besides being melodic fillers leading up to some of the more memorable tracks.
However, just as he has proved time and again throughout his discography, Juice still manages to exhibit a versatility that has him crooning mellow emo-rap in one song while aggressively fast-flow rapping in the next. This transition is seen multiple times throughout the album, and it is as satisfying as it is well-executed.
In one of the most heartfelt tracks on the album, “Can’t Die,” Juice talks about loss he’s experienced in his own life, with references to rapper and childhood friend XXXTentacion, who was murdered in 2018. Juice says that he never felt alive without X, and in order to cope with the loss, he fell victim to an endless cycle of drugs to cope.
All in all, “Legends Never Die” is a godsend for everyone looking to get into Juice’s music, and a painful reminder of how much the world lost with his untimely death. Diehard fans and casual listeners alike will feel goosebumps and rest easy knowing that “Juice WRLD Speaks From Heaven.”
Contact Ian Park at ianpark3918 ‘at’ gmail.com.