Juice WRLD figured out how to make the studio his personal smash room. His music often spoke directly to current or old flames while exploring his own heartbreak, employing easy-to-recite melodies that won over a generation. On “Lucid Dreams,” his biggest song, he immediately voiced how haunted by love he was: “I still see your shadows in my room / Can't take back the love that I gave you.” He opened the most accessible door yet to emotional rap, showing people that not only is it OK to be heartbroken, but it’s also OK to stay heartbroken as well. The 21-year-old rapper died on December 8, leaving a brief but legendary legacy of a kid on the verge of an industry takeover built upon passionate, human storytelling that came from the heart.
Born Jarad Anthony Higgins, Juice WRLD first piqued ears in 2016, and two years later, he signed a reported $3 million deal with Interscope Records. That’s a lot of money to give to a relatively unknown lyricist. But Juice WRLD quickly proved to be worth much more than that, as evident in the Sting-sampling “Lucid Dreams,” which began as a sleeper hit and eventually hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and went platinum six times over.
Two albums — Goodbye & Good Riddance (which went platinum) and Death Race for Love (which has gone gold) — and one mixtape — Wrld On Drugs (with Future) — followed, and, Juice WRLD’s became one of hip-hop's most exciting rising voices who understood how to excavate his feelings truthfully. He’s set to live on through the hearts of fans that have found themselves in the emotional safe space he created. That’s what his positive message of 999, which featured on merch as well as in his music, sought to capture. “999 represents taking whatever ill, whatever bad situation, whatever struggle you’re going through and turning it into something positive and using it to push yourself forward,” Juice told MTV in 2018.
His honesty unlocked the door for fans, friends, and peers around him to heal from their wounds and become better versions of themselves. MTV News talked to 10 of Juice WRLD’s fans about how important that legacy is.
Alani Richardson, 24
Favorite song: “Armed and Dangerous”
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "In 2017 while teaching at a law program for high schoolers."
What does his music do for you? "It speaks to a part of me that I don’t always give a voice. Most of us are dealing with feelings that are deeper than what we’re able to express to our friends and family. His music was able to tap into those heavier emotions that I hadn’t been able to express without being judged."
How do you hope he's remembered? "By the huge impact that he had on the younger generation. He showed us what passion and pain really looked like."
Kemet High, 23
Favorite song: “Astronauts”
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "In 2016, and I distinctly remember him not fitting into either of Chicago’s drill or SAVEMONEY movements. He provided my ears with sounds I had honestly never heard."
What does his music do for you? "His music had a Band-Aid effect on me and I think a lot of people. He prevailed when it came to being honest and laying out his pain on a microphone. His music was easy for anyone to receive, not only because it had influences from many different genres, but also because he talked about his own life in a way that millions could relate to theirs."
How do you hope he's remembered? "As someone who was free. He proved that it’s possible to acknowledge the abyss of problems in your life and still be happy."
Keyera Williams, 25
Favorite song: “Rich and Blind”
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "In 2018 through a song called 'Scared of Love.' I came across it randomly on a Spotify playlist and immediately connected to the lyrics and the pain that you could hear in his voice."
What does his music do for you? "I have a long history of depression and I also use my art to talk about it so I felt like I related to Juice in that way. When I discovered him, I felt like I’d found an artist that gave a voice to what I was thinking through music that I vibe with. There have been so many days where I’ve felt isolated and alone and come home to turn on Goodbye & Good Riddance."
How do you hope he's remembered? "As a young, talented king that unfortunately was taken too soon. I hope his death inspires fans and even casual listeners that dealt with similar issues as him to get the help that they need to heal."
Armon Sadler, 24
Favorite song: “Feeling”
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "In 2018 when I heard 'Lucid Dreams' and liked it immediately. I saw some freestyle videos he did too and appreciated that he had that range."
What does his music do for you? "Like Future, Young Thug, and many rappers I enjoy, he used his voice as an instrument to convey his emotions. He fit very well in this era where artists are much more forthcoming with their trauma and vulnerability is seen as a superpower."
How do you hope he's remembered? "For the impact that he had."
Eboni Taylor, 22
Favorite song: "'Astronauts.' I giggle when he says the girl has cooties."
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: In 2018 when I was on tour as a host speaker for the Google Pixel Sights of Sound launch in Atlanta. There was a room dedicated to him and Future playing 'Astronauts.'"
What does his music do for you? "His music is something that I play to calm me down or when I'm working at my studio."
How do you hope he's remembered? "As a super young and bright soul that had everything he wanted and so much potential."
Ashton Howard, 24
Favorite song: “Make It Black”
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "Two years ago when one of my best friend’s little brothers kept telling us that he was his favorite artist."
What does his music do for you? "It provided context and perspective. Whether it was a party song while I was out on the town, or the random bedroom banger that would come on when my Apple Music was on shuffle."
How do you hope he's remembered? "For his music and impact on the world."
Lee McIntosh, 27
Favorite song: "Before his passing, I would have to say 'Empty.' It was the perfect introduction to his album and set the tone for what was yet to come. Now I would have to say my favorite is 'Legends.'"
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "Back in 2017 when my friend sent me a link to 'Let Me Know (I Wonder Why Freestyle).'"
What does his music do for you? "His music makes me feel like I’m inside of his mind. Listening to it made me understand his pain and get deeper into his struggles."
How do you hope he's remembered? "As a human being no different from the rest of us. I hope people can use his passing as a wake-up call to just enjoy our time while we have it on Earth because it’s so limited. If you’re feeling down, reach out and get help."
Carrie Scharloo, 28
Favorite song: “Lucid Dreams”
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "About a year ago. I was watching a video online and heard 'Lucid Dreams' in the background. After that, he became 90 percent of what I listen to every day."
What does his music do for you? "He makes me feel like I’m not alone. That’s probably my favorite song as well, his pain in so vivid in his lyrics."
How do you hope he’s remembered? "He makes me feel like I’m not alone and that’s how I want him to be remembered for being honest and true to self."
Scott Stowe, 23
Favorite song: "'Desire.' But 'Candles' is a close second."
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "Around the time that he put out 'Lucid Dreams' on Apple Music. He was working with Cole Bennett on the release of the music video."
What does his music do for you? "When I listen to his music, I hear something that I can relate to. The way that he’s able to word things about heartbreak, love, pain, and being alone, it makes me feel like I’m not alone in the emotions that I’ve experienced."
How do you hope he’s remembered? "He was so young – two years younger than me. One of my favorite videos on the internet is Juice WRLD in the studio freestyling and his manager bringing different items for him to see and freestyle about. Someone who was amazingly talented and able to express himself through music, that was taken too soon."
Isaiah Rookwood, 25
Favorite song: "'Hear Me Calling.' It’s on the soundtrack to NBA 2K20 and I listen to it all the time."
Discovered Juice WRLD's music: "I found some of his early stuff on SoundCloud in 2016 and was taken aback. He was amazing."
What does his music do for you? "It puts words to the emotions that I’m sometimes too scared to vocalize."
How do you hope he’s remembered? "As someone who wasn’t afraid to be real about how he was feeling at all times. It’s rare to find people like that nowadays."