The first posthumous Juice WRLD release showcases the genius of a talent gone way before his time was up
Artist: Juice WRLD
Album: Legends Never Die
Label: Grade A Productions
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Juice WRLD became an international superstar with his hit single, “Lucid Dreams,” a drug-addled emo rap tune that went on to dominate the charts in 2018.
The song itself contained a sample of the song “Shape of My Heart” by Sting, who was subsequently awarded 85 percent of the royalties for the track.
Nevertheless word of his talents spread across the globe, as anxious fans eagerly awaited to hear how the young man planned to top his major label debut, Goodbye & Good Riddance (2018), and his even more successful sophomore album, Death Race for Love (2019).
The album is somewhere between an artistic marvel and a cry for help. While we could never know how the artist really felt before his passing, we know that he left behind more than 2,000 previously recorded tracks.
Legends Never Die is full of some of his best work, but the subject matter is much heavier. Notably there are also no video game references, which is a shock considering the references to such classic car games as Grand Theft Auto and Twisted Metal on his first two records.
VIDEO: Twisted Metal PS1 gameplay
The album is more than just a touching tribute to Juice WRLD, it is a visual homage to his work and musical influence. Legends Never Die features some of his favorite collaborators including producers Nick Mira, Max Lord, Dre Moon, Rex Kudo and features guest appearances by Trippie Redd, Marshmello, Polo G, The Kid LAROI and Halsey.
It opens with a short one minute monologue from the artist about how his music has more substance than just talking about heartbreak; about how music is an outlet, and how he strived to try and change the world and leave his mark on music forever.
Juice WRLD opens up about fighting the devil and his own personal demons on the track, “Conversations,” a confession about struggling to cope and trying to numb his affliction with medicinal drugs.
“Titanic” compares the overall hype and potential of the young rapper’s career to the legendary sinking ship, which was the largest ever built at the time. It’s an emotional rap about feeling doomed from the start and feeling damaged beyond repair.
The album changes things up with a more positive message on the track “Bad Energy.” Teaming up with Take a Daytrip, the superproducer behind “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes and “Panini” by Lil Nas X, and Blake Slatkin the track is an uplifting and refreshing change of pace for the record.
“Drain out bad energy (Drain out bad energy)
Forget the bad memories (Forget the bad memories)”
Juice WRLD’s longtime producer / associate Nick Mira produces “Righteous” an acoustic melody about his battle with anxiety and drug abuse. The song was the first released by his estate following his death on Jan. 22nd 2020.
“It’s a very emotional song for me to listen to but I know how much we both loved it and I know how much J would be proud of this,” his girlfriend tweeted the night before the song’s release.
My Jeans” and “Tell Me You Love Me” feat. Trippie Redd are both trap love songs dedicated to his girlfriend, Ally Lotti, who he swears his love for. His first collaboration with The Weeknd, “Smile” is a powerhouse combination that many of us longed to hear. The combination of the two distinguished vocalists is really something special.
The Kid LAROI also appears to have a promising career in front of him as well. The young Australian rapper, featured on the Marshmello-produced posse cut, “Hate the Other Side,” also links up with Juice WRLD on his recent track “Go” from his debut album, Fuck Love.
“Life’s a Mess” feat. Halsey is a pop infused love ballad that was released as the promotional single for the album. The video features a variety of artwork inspired by the music and talent of Juice WRLD.
VIDEO: Juice WRLD feat. Halsey “Life’s A Mess”
Juice WRLD was an avid fan of anime and manga. That is why the music video for “Come and Go,” an electronically charged mash-up featuring EDM producer Marshemello, provides such a fitting tribute with an original animated music video by Tristan Zammit.
VIDEO: Juice WRLD and Marshmello “Come and Go”
“Wishing Well” is where listeners really hear Juice open up about how his own afflictions with depression and drug abuse are taking control of his life and decisions.
“I still try even though I know I’m gon’ fail
Stress on my shoulders like a anvil
Perky got me itching like a anthill
Drugs killing me softly, Lauryn Hill
Sometimes I don’t know how to feel”
The album continues with “Screw Juice,” a track about how heartache and pain leaves him feeling exposed and not knowing what to do, runs back to doing drugs like promethazine and codeine.
“Up Up and Away” lightens the overall mood once again with an airy and uplifting melody with a much deeper message about how his drug use attributed to his overall fame and wealth.
The album breaks into “The Man, The Myth, The Legend,” an interlude featuring several of his idols and past collaborators including J. Cole, Travis Scott, Eminem, Kxng Crooked, Lil Dicky, G Herbo, and Young Thug.
“Can’t Die” was a tribute to deceased rapper XXXTentacion, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Florida at the age of 20. In the song, Juice discusses having overdosed multiple times before.
Skrillex co-produced the punk-rock track “Man of the Year” an anthemic track about his fans and the “golden years.”
The album ends with a short but sweet monologue from the recently departed rapper aptly titled, “Juice WRLD Speaks from Heaven.”
Legends Never Die is hardly the most original title for the project but it’s a fitting addition to his catalog and adequately sums up the young man’s talent and struggle.
His story is one that reminds us to give these young talented musicians their flowers while they’re still here to smell them.