Juice Wrld (1998-2019)

Juice Wrld, unfortunately, passed away today from an apparent seizure and the world of hip-hop is in shock. The 21-year-old was a rising star for the past couple of years from Illinois who took the music industry by storm with his hit song “Lucid Dreams”. Juice Wrld was unfortunately plagued by loss in the past two years from friends and idols such as XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, both were emo-rappers like Juice Wrld. These losses made him release the now prophetic song “Legends” in which he detailed how the 21 club is now the new “27 Club” and sadly that became true for him on December 8, 2019. While we continue to mourn the loss of one of hip-hop’s most unique and rising rappers, I compiled my writings of him on this article so that I too may pay my respects to the artist and his work. Rest in peace Juice Wrld, may you be forever missed.

Expression Pt. 3 – Juice WRLD (June 5, 2018)

2017 saw the rise of rappers being emotional and down to Earth with their music. Rappers such as Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTentacion, and Lil Peep are some of the few names that dominated the “emo-rap” genre of 2017. 2018 introduced us to another key player in the genre, that being Juice WRLD.

Juice WRLD is a 19-year-old rapper from Calumet Park, Illinois. His work can be compared to Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTentacion, and Lil Peep yet it still sounds unique and different from these artists even though they have a similar theme in their songs. Juice WRLD is perhaps the most human amongst these names, especially because of his age and his outlook on life. Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Peep were mostly about drugs, money, and losing the love of their lives. Meanwhile, XXXTentacion was more in line with releasing songs about life, death, and his feelings towards others. Juice Wrld can be described as the ultimate combination of these three artists who is then sprinkled with bits and pieces of other artists such as Trippie Redd, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Lil Yachty, and Lil Tracy to name a few. Juice Wrld is definitely someone I can see becoming one of the most notable acts of this year.

His music is what you’d expect from an emo rapper, however, his lyrics are what sets him apart from others in his genre. The way Juice WRLD raps on each dreamy and cloudy beat is perhaps his best feature. The delivery of his lyrics are sincere and full of sadness which results in an excellent display of character as each song follows this similar trend. Songs like “Lucid Dreams” are popular due to his unique take on the genre. “Lucid Dreams” is my favorite song by him due to his genuineness that he bleeds on the track. The message he maintains is deep and relatable on a personal level. Lyrics such as “Who knew evil girls had the prettiest face?” hit me in the feels to a great extent. I believe his honesty and straight-forwardness is what will propel him to further success this year.

His album Goodbye & Good Riddance is a very strong testament to his ability and versatility as a rapper. 15 tracks are barely enough to even scratch the surface of Juice WRLD’s persona. I don’t believe Juice WRLD to be a “character”; I consider him to be more lifelike than most of the current rappers. I feel that rappers such as Lil Xan and Yung Lean simply lack the humanity and realism that Juice WRLD extorts on this album. Nonetheless, this album is a song debut from the rising rapper and I can’t find many negative aspects of this release. Juice WRLD also made some solid skits for this album such as “Betrayal” and “Karma”. Skits haven’t been featured in modern music recently and if they are, they mostly just are called interludes. The skits on Goodbye & Good Riddance really set the tone and theme of the album as they feature a woman who laughs and betrays him at the start of the album, however, in the end, she gets her karma when he ignores her. These simple two skits really give the album an identity that can resonate with almost every listener.

With 13 songs and two skits, Juice WRLD released one of the best albums to come out this year. This year has already been a great year for music and if we get another release from him this year, I could see this year being better than 2016 when it comes to albums. I am glad to see Juice WRLD is blowing up and getting proper exposure and I hope he continues to put out quality work and works to further perfect his craft. I definitely must say that Juice WRLD is a name you need to look out for this year as I’m sure he will own a section of this year with his fantastic debut album.

My 10 Favorite Songs of 2019 So Far (Easter 2019) (April 21, 2019)

10. ON GOD – Juice Wrld ft. Young Thug

Juice Wrld has been on a streak recently with releases and Death Race For Love is no exception. This 22 song album has some notable hits such as “Robbery” and “Hear Me Calling”, however, I believe the best song on this album is “ON GOD”. The song “ON GOD” features Young Thug and shows the insane chemistry that the two have together. With the two interweaving together they form a meticulous yet infectious song that ranks at 10 for this year’s list so far.

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Legacy

Music is a timeless art. An art that is meant to be reflected upon and revisited often; this results in artist’s creating legacies for themselves with the constant repetition of plays and support from their fans. Some artists legacies are short-lived while others live on throughout the decades, however, recently music has suffered a loss of an artist who was unknowingly writing his legacy at the age of 21.

The loss of Lil Peep was quite impactful to the rap community due to his recency and effort to help create the emo-rap genre in music. A rap-rock genre like this hasn’t been popular since bands like Limp Bizkit and Hollywood Undead in the 90’s and 2000’s respectively. Lil Peep was a crucial architect in emo-rap who opened the doors for artists such as Trippie Redd, XXXtentacion, and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. This creation of emo-rap has blown up on Soundcloud due to its ability to let anyone upload; people can listen to musicians who they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to hear before due to the simplicity and accessibility that Soundcloud boasts.

Lil Peep’s particular music saw him talking about relationships, drugs, and money in a new light. The combination of rap and emo is one of the most versatile and “out there” sounds to ever exist in this modern age. With songs like “Save That Shit” and “Absolute in Doubt” which tell a sad tale of heartbreak but are yet reinforced with a lavish lifestyle undertale, Lil Peep is able to seamlessly merge two very different genres into one cohesive sound. This discovery led to an onslaught of other musician’s trying their hand at this sound, especially on Soundcloud. Lil Peep was ahead of the game and already on his way to monumental success in the future.

However on November 15th, 2017 the world lost Lil Peep and thus his life as an artist was seemingly complete. This leads to the discussion about the legacy of Lil Peep and how it can be continued and preserved through the years. Since his passing, songs and music videos have been released posthumously which continue to spread the lyrics and idea of Lil Peep across new and old fans alike. This continuation of music is quite unique for an artist who already released around 90 songs during his short lifetime. This preservation of talent allows for years of releases to come out hence giving Lil Peep’s legacy a form of endurance to go on for a seemingly long period of time. The motivation that Lil Peep gave during his life is what gives his music the sustainability it deserves, allowing for the eventual release of his full recorded discography in the future.

The loss of Lil Peep wasn’t the end of Lil Peep’s career. With posthumous releases being an option on the table, artists can take this inspirational note and continue to record as much as they can so when they do eventually pass, they may continue to live on through their music. While the passing of Lil Peep was very unfortunate, it’s a sign that music truly is eternal and needs to be preserved at all costs moving forward. Lil Peep’s music career is still alive and will continue to astonish and please due to his work ethic when he was unaware of what the future held.

Best Albums of 2017

The rules for this year’s list are simple. One album allowed per artist. Only albums I can see myself playing in the future and/or have an effect on myself or music as a whole. Only albums from January 1st – December 31st.

Honorary Mention: Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt.1 – Lil Peep

Of all of the albums released this year, one stuck out to me more than some others; that being Lil Peep’s debut and final non-posthumous album release from Lil Peep. With Lil Peep’s recent passing I figured putting him on this list as my honorary mention would be the most justifiable. Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt.1 is Lil Peep at his best and was just a sample of what could’ve come from the 21-year-old. His work with emo rap helped revive the emo genre and shed some new light on the outdated and forgotten style. Lil Peep’s personality of a loving boy who’s been mistreated and hurt by people he thought loved him resonated a lot with me along with his fairly huge fanbase he accumulated in such a short amount of time. This album has a song and style for almost everyone; songs like “Benz Truck” and “The Brightside” show two completely different perspectives of Lil Peep and add a commendable contrast in style. Although I was a big fan of Lil Peep and his untimely passing affected myself along with his fan base, however, I am glad he released Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt.1 so his debut album could live on indefinitely, thus solidifying his legacy.

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10. IWASVERYBAD – IDK

IDK put out an explosive album this year with IWASVERYBAD, and I must commend him for his work. From start to finish this album explores IDK’s flow and talent as he rips through each song. IDK’s voice and execution is the most distinct factor that sets this album apart from much of today’s current rap music. This album is solid and is filled with many names such as MF DOOM, Swizz Beatz, and Chief Keef. Songs like “Pizza Shop” and “17 Wit a 38” offer a refreshing style that is sure to go a long way if continued. If IDK keeps up this work and continues to surprise his fans, I believe he will become a big name within the next few years. I highly recommend this album and this artist especially his older work under the moniker of Jay IDK.

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9. At What Cost – Goldlink

This year seems to be full of surprises from debut albums and At What Cost is a testament to that statement. DMV rapper Goldlink shines through on his debut album as his groove and flow follow him. This album is silky and smooth as Goldlink manages to effortlessly slide through each song with his incomparable style, giving each song a new layer of depth in the process. Songs like “Herside Story”, “We Will Never Die”, and “Crew” are the climax of Goldlink’s style and sound as they contribute the most singularity to this project. Additionally, being filled with features from artists such as Jazmine Sullivan, Shy Glizzy, and Wale solidifies the fact this album was created to be as polished as possible. Given that this is just his debut album, I think the 2015 XXL Freshman has a shot at success ahead of him as he continues to stroll on each song on At What Cost.

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8. Pure Comedy – Father John Misty

Pure Comedy is without a doubt a masterpiece. Father John Misty invokes thought and emotion unlike any other current artist today. His gloomy yet seemingly positive outlook on life is beautiful as each lyric tell a story within themselves. Father John Misty’s unique indie-folk sound works wonders with his narrative and soothing yet powerful voice and lyrics about life, death, and everything in between. This album is an experience, to say the least; and songs like “Pure Comedy”, “Ballad of the Dying Man”, and “Birdie” need to be heard. I find it hard to talk about this album from a critical and informative standpoint because of how necessary it is to listen to. I absolutely recommend Pure Comedy to anyone reading this and especially anyone who loves the folk sound.

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7. Flower Boy – Tyler, the Creator

For Tyler, the Creator this album is balanced, to say the least. Tyler, the Creator comes alive with an authentic humanistic approach and appropriate beats to match. Tyler finds the perfect balance of loud and quiet on this album that he has been seeking since Wolf back in 2013. Tyler’s contrasting sounds finally come to be harmonious in Flower Boy for the first time. This album by Tyler is truthful and deep, as he explores missed opportunities, especially love. The journey from Goblin to Flower Boy has been quite extraordinary as Tyler has had time to delve into different genres and sounds each becoming more cohesive with time. This album is easily Tyler’s greatest release to date and boasts a plethora of features which only further endorse Tyler’s balanced sound. If Tyler, the Creator continues to perfect his balance of sound, the future seems bright for the Odd Future founder.

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6. Process – Sampha

Sampha somehow did it again and released another great project. Not since his 2013 EP Dual has Sampha released a project, but Process was worth the 4-year wait. With “Timmy’s Prayer” being one of my favorite releases of 2016 I couldn’t wait to see what Sampha had in store. Process is the culmination of Sampha’s feelings and time over the 4-year gap, and it couldn’t be any better. This album hits hard and can make the toughest shed a tear as Sampha is brutally honest about himself and life in the most symphonic way possible. The piano was seemingly made to compliment Sampha’s unique voice and projection as the two combine to make truly flawless pieces. It’s safe to say that I would wait any amount of time to hear Sampha release another project that could rival Process.

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5. Without Warning – 21 Savage & Offset

2017 was the year of collaborations with at least four albums paired some of the best current names in the industry. Of the profuse amount of releases, the one that stands out the most is 21 Savage and Offset’s Without WarningWithout Warning is the most volatile of the collaboration’s released in 2017 and for good reason. 21 Savage has had an amazing year with his debut album and numerous of features that topped the charts, meanwhile, Offset had a prolific year with the Migos debut album as well as his own personal life and relationship with Cardi B. This pairing, however, isn’t an obvious choice as the duo haven’t put out as much work with each other, but nonetheless they make it sound as if they’ve been working together for years. With production being handled by Metro Boomin and sprinkled with some features by Quavo and Travis Scott, this album is the recipe for success. While songs like “Rap Saved Me” and “Ghostface Killers” display the duo’s synergy, yet songs like “Ric Flair Drip” and “Run Up the Racks” show their individual talent on raging beats by Metro Boomin. Without Warning is the blueprint for collaboration albums, and I for one cannot wait to see if this duo plans to release another project.

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4. As You Please – Citizen

With Citizen ranking high on my list of favorite songs of 2017, the placement of this album on this list was obvious. Citizen is one of my favorite emo bands and after their previous work and “Jet” they should be yours too. As You Please is a welcoming followup to their 2015 album Everybody Is Going To Heaven which I enjoyed more than their previous album, YOUTH. Somehow Citizen continues to outdo themselves and produce some of the best emo music since it’s revival. As You Please is a reaffirmation of Citizen’s influence and talent in the genre whilst still leaving the door open for even further experimentation and exploration. I enjoyed every song on this album especially “Jet” and recommend it to anyone who likes emo or is at least interested in what I believe to be the best band of the emo revitalization era.

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3. Saturation 2 – Brockhampton

I was unfortunately late on the Brockhampton hype train, so when I did finally listen to the Saturation 2 I was astonished. This collective of 14 guys continue to break the boundaries of “boy bands” and have ushered in the new rules and regulations on how a collective should function. With each member contributing their talent it’s not shocking how well Brockhampton can function seamlessly and coherently. I chose the Saturation 2 out of the trilogy due to the differing production and lyrics. The production of the Saturation 2 is exceptionally impressive. With some of the beats sounding like they came straight from the Middle East; the creative choices make this Saturation the superior of the three. Regardless, Brockhampton has already solidified their name as one of the best boy bands of all time.

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2. DAMN – Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s fourth album simply reinforces the reasons why he is one of the best rappers of all time. A stark contrast to To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN is loud, angry, and accessible. This album boasts nothing but hits, each one proving time and time again why it deserves to be on the album. Kendrick Lamar once again defies the norms and continues to raise the bar for himself and others.

“Kendrick further goes in-depth of his psyche, social systems and the effect of fame on his life but also the world around him with his fourth album release, DAMN. Creatively the production of the album shines due to it’s “double album” style of being able to be listened to forwards for the “weakness” side of the story and reverse for the “wickedness” side of the story, As a seamless continuation of the Good Kid, M.A.A.D City narrative of the life of Kendrick, the tone of the album is frustrated and angry at the state of the world but also reflective in how our own lives can affect the world around us. This is a statement album and should remove any doubt of who the greatest rapper on the planet is right now.” -ZiggyStarscream

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1. SYRE – Jaden Smith

Jaden Smith really surprised me with this one. When I heard SYRE was coming out and heard the trailer, I knew I would like this album, however, I didn’t know at the time that I would love it more than anything else this year. The fact that I put SYRE higher than Saturation 2 and DAMN should be enough to convince anyone to listen to this. The album soars beyond any expectations that were set for Jaden Smith and continues to amaze me each time I listen. Songs like “BLUE”, “Icon”, “Fallen”, and “George Jeff” are Jaden Smith at his best, he isn’t the greatest musician, lyricist, or rapper but he is the greatest relatable figure for myself and the youth as a collective. If you take nothing away from this list, at least give SYRE a listen, it has my official seal of approval and my praise to the highest extent. Jaden Smith won 2017 with SYRE now we can only wait to see what else he has to surprise us with in the future.

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Genre

Experimentation has always been a key element in hip-hop. From newer artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Trippie Redd, and XXXtentacion who continue to push new and groundbreaking elements into the genre, they’ve shown that hip-hop is an ever-changing style of music that is constantly developing a new sound. However, this isn’t a new trend. Older artists have been doing this since the 80s. While some consider the Beastie Boys to be one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, many forget their first project. In 1982 the band released their EP titled Polly Wog Stew. This eight-track release was a punk album that is a stark contrast to their later work and subsequent success. 35 years later we are still seeing the dynamic of experimentation of different genres becoming very prominent in today’s rap music. Continue reading