By ANA-SOFIA MUÑOZ
We ain’t making it past 21.
For rapper Juice WRLD, these lyrics from his song “Legend” tragically came true early Sunday morning, Dec. 8.
Jarad Anthony Higgins, also known by his stage name Juice WRLD, recently celebrated his twenty-first birthday on Dec. 2. Higgins had just arrived at Chicago Midway Airport from a private flight with several other rappers when he suffered a seizure that unfortunately led to his subsequent death.
Reportedly, law enforcement officials were waiting for the plane to land in Chicago, after receiving word from a federal task force that drugs and guns were possibly onboard. Higgins began to have a seizure during police questioning, and federal agents administered Narcan, a drug used to revive those overdosing on opioids. He was transported to a nearby hospital, but pronounced dead just after 3 A.M. Currently, the direct cause of his death is still under investigation, but it is believed to be drug-related.
Initially, Higgins began his career in 2015 while still in high school by posting songs to the online streaming platform SoundCloud. His debut EP “9 9 9” caught the attention of labels following its release in 2017, and he was later signed to Interscope Records. He rapidly rose in popularity as his song “Lucid Dreams” reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 2018.
Evidently, Higgins’s sound was shaped by a myriad of influences. Hailing from Chicago, his style contains elements from other local rappers. Lyric-wise, Higgins often discussed drug use in songs such as “Hurt Me” and “Lean Wit Me.” His family has recently spoken out about about his battle with addiction; within the last several days, Higgins’s mother Carmella Wallace revealed that the rapper struggled with prescription drug abuse.
Unfortunately, Higgins is yet another example of a popular music star falling at the hands of drug abuse. In 2017, rapper Lil Peep was found dead due to an overdose of Xanax and fentanyl. In both instances, the connection between the rappers’ frequent mentioning of drug use in their lyrics and their cause of death leads us to question what may be done to prevent these kinds of tragedies.
In particular, such instances open the discussion of ways in which awareness of drug abuse may be spread without romanticizing this epidemic, as many rappers often do in their music. The importance of such a discussion rapidly grows more urgent as these events occur, especially considering the young fan base of these artists. Undoubtedly, many young fans idolize stars like Higgins, and are eager to achieve fame similar to his through platforms like SoundCloud.
However, considering the prominence of substance abuse in the music industry—and within the SoundCloud community especially—it is imperative that we do not allow young people to glamorize a lifestyle involving drug use.
Ultimately, the devastating loss of musicians like Juice WRLD reveals a striking need for intervention within the music industry.
Higgins will be missed by his friends, family and fans.
Juice WRLD, we still see your shadows in our hearts.