Only a week after the posthumous launch of Pop Smoke’s debut album, “Shoot for the Stars, Purpose for the Moon” comes one other new album from one more younger rapper gone far too quickly. Brooklyn drill grasp Pop Smoke and Chicago emo-inflected MC Juice WRLD have been each full of life innovators, using melancholy, memorable and at instances fairly melodies to croon-rap tales of heartbreak, anger and pleasure. If something, every rapper was exploring new methods for hip-hop to be assimilated.
Nonetheless, comparisons between the 2 ought to finish there. Whereas Pop Smoke utilized ambient R&B as a foundation for a lot of of his softer tracks, Juice WRLD — who died in December at 21 on account of an unintended drug overdose — was gloom-dreamy, a mushy vocalist and freestyler with a penchant for bleak lyrics and darkly edgy however infectious music.
By no fault of Juice WLRD’s, “Legends Never Die” could also be a presumptuous title — “legend” is a giant phrase, and he didn’t have a lot time to turn out to be one. However the prolific MC was on a quick upward trajectory from his two beforehand launched albums (2018’s “Goodbye & Good Riddance,” 2019’s “Dying Race for Love”) and his 2018 collaboration with Future, “WRLD on Medication.”
Little on the brand new album, cobbled collectively from tracks he’d completed and people he was engaged on earlier than his demise, is sort of as darkish and distressing as “Lucid Goals,” with its “You left me falling and touchdown inside my grave/ I do know that you really want me useless/ I take prescriptions to make me really feel OK/ I do know it’s all in my head” chorus. Nonetheless, there’s no scarcity of moody blues and purple flags. In “Combating Demons,” he raps, “On my knees/ I pray for a greater day,” and the flickering “Dangerous Vitality,” with its autotuned vocals dreamy synths options the traces:
“Swallow all these drugs with my satisfaction/ Married to my highs, it’s possible you’ll kiss the bride.
Hassle in my mind, see it in my eyes/ I obtained voices in my head, they preserve me up at night time
Stated I used to be okay, however I’m mendacity, really feel like that I’m dying/ Soul screaming and crying, really feel my mind frying.”
Then once more, Juice WRLD did like floating shadowy feelings and mournful titles. On the hazy “Life’s a Mess,” with Halsey (and co-produced byRick Rubin), he will get ruminative and romantic relatively than his ordinary psychological disturbance or demise obsessions — he’s even corny, with lyrics like “Have you ever ever fallen head over heels for somebody?”
Sonically, in contrast with Juice WRLD’s early SoundCloud materials, “Legends Never Die,” is positively lush — not over-produced, however comparatively elaborately organized. “Wishing Effectively,” coproduced by Dr. Luke, has an Edge-like guitar intro and lyrics about fame, satisfaction and Percocet; the guitar-strumming “Hate the Different Facet,” that includes Marshmello, Polo G and Child Laroi, is “Wishing Effectively”’s dozy hip-hop equal. And whereas a number of cuts such because the Skrillex-collab “Man of the 12 months” have a snarly, punk really feel to them (Juice was a self-professed Billy Idol fan), “Inform Me U Luv Me” is probably the most intricate track on “Legends Never Die,” if not your complete hip-hop canon.
And there are additionally moments of pure magnificence: “Inform Me U Luv Me” combines the fractal guitar jut of King Crimson, the skitter of drum n’ bass and Trippie Redd’s rapid-fire raps with Juice’s dry, emotive croon, hypnotically moaning the observe’s title. Moments like that — and the dreamy vocal on “Righteous” and the off-beat “Screw Juice” — are a tantalizing and heartbreaking glimpse of what Juice WRLD’s future might have been.