Consumer Guide Album
Juice Wrld: Legends Never Die [Grade A/Interscope, 2020]
"I can't breathe I'm waiting for the exhale": well before George Floyd turned Eric Garner's last words into a metonym for racism, this 21-year-old Chicago rapper who apparently OD'd swallowing evidence as cops breached his private jet was uttering them with a difference. Beset by chokeholds, Floyd and Garner were deprived of oxygen; beset by anxiety, Jarad Higgins was deprived of ease. However effortless his tuneful rivulets of pitch-corrected singsong, however proud his talent and earned his success, he was frightened and insecure underneath. This kind of torment always has a biochemical component and afflicts humans of every background. But how can it not be exacerbated by systemic racism? Many rappers admit that it afflicts them to one extent or other. But Juice Wrld put it front and center, and for me that renders his melodies more likable and his art uncommonly affecting--I feel for this drug abuser and enjoy his music more as a result. Materially, he did quite well for himself during his brief lifetime. But he was honest and decent enough to deserve better.