One year ago, Juice WRLD gave his first-ever live performance, to a handful of friends and classmates at a Chicago rec center. The audience “didn’t even know the words to some of the stuff,” remembers the Chicago native, but he won over the room. “They loved it,” he says, recalling how the small crowd chanted along. He made out with $100.
Then, in March, he signed a reported $3 million deal with Interscope. The momentum has kept up. Just over a month ago, the 19-year-old, born Jared Higgins, made his debut on the Billboard Hot 100 with not one but two songs — one of which, the moody “Lucid Dreams,” sits at No. 4. (The delightfully bratty “All Girls Are the Same” peaked at No. 41.) Not since Lil Uzi Vert and XXXTentacion has a SoundCloud rapper made such an assured leap into the mainstream. In fact, he recently started working with the former, and he dedicated the new song “Legends” to the latter following his death on June 18.
Juice’s debut — Goodbye & Good Riddance, which includes “Lucid Dreams” and “All Girls Are the Same” — arrived in May. The album, which hit No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on both the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts, merges various strains of rap bubbling on SoundCloud over the last few years — the rougher, post-Raider Klan sounds of South Florida, the commercially dominant modes from Atlanta — with a Kid Cudi-esque emotional nakedness. Juice raps about high school heartbreak with teenage earnestness, infusing his verses with melodies and hooks with warbling pain.-Billboard