An Artist with a Pioneering Legacy
On December 8th, 2019, 21-year-old Jarad A. Higgins suffered a seizure shortly after arriving at Midway International Airport. Transported to a local hospital, the young rapper better known as Juice WRLD was pronounced dead hours later. Now, on December 10th, 2021, just two years after his death, his second posthumous album Fighting Demons was released.
Two of Juice WRLD’s long-time collaborators and friends were the leaders in this project. One of them was Lil Bibby, the Grade A Productions founder who has been working closely with Juice WRLD since joining the label in 2017. Another is Peter Jideonwo, Juice WRLD’s manager who still finds it weird to introduce himself as the person in charge of someone dead. Though precisely due to the status of the rapper and the legacy that he left and is still building, both individuals recognized the importance of the project, and why they “can’t f*** this up.”
Put together within the last year, Lil Bibby meant for Fighting Demons to deliver a message, more importantly, a lesson on drugs and why “the kids shouldn’t do this type of stuff.” This strongly resonates with Juice WRLD’s mission of helping others, which will be an ongoing mission as mentioned by his collaborators on the unreleased 2000 songs, leaving an important legacy for the people around him. Jideonwo goes further to say that Juice WRLD will be “known as the therapist to the youth that never declared himself a therapist.”
While building out the album, the main goal was to create a story while teaching a lesson. As such, many of the songs were in relation to drug abuse, mental states, and lifestyle changes. Though any songs that Juice WRLD had originally loved and was related to the topics mentioned above were automatically included in the album. This was supplemented by skits and talks, one of the tracks being “Eminem Talks”, where he shares his experiences with drug abuse, almost dying, and his family values rescuing him from the darker side of his life.
Though Eminem wasn’t the only artist to be featured on this project. Polo G and Trippie Redd were close friends of Juice WRLD, which is why Lil Bibby had recruited them to do verses on the album. Suga from BTS was a previous collaborator who also had a strong value for improving mental health, fitting nicely with the project. Though the biggest surprise was Justin Bieber, who was someone Juice WRLD had always wanted to work with. That along with Bieber’s past and his reputation, served as a great platform for propelling the album with the single released days before, “Wandered to LA.”
A voice for the current and future generations of children, Juice WRLD had always been recognized for his lyricism and voice, but it is much more than the musicality of his songs now. The weight that his music will carry from now on has a greater meaning behind it, especially due to the way in which he passed away. For some he was a savior, for others he was the best artist, but to many more, he will be remembered as an artist who impacted the people.