The rapper Juice Wrld has died, aged 21. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, pending an autopsy, although TMZ reports that he had a seizure in Chicago’s Midway Airport yesterday morning.
Real name Jarad Higgins, as a child he was forbidden from listening to rap and – although he did later discover rap and hip hop – the future rapper first developed his passion for music through the pop punk and rock music he heard in video games.
In 2015, he began posting tracks to SoundCloud, becoming a popular voice in the emo rap scene on the platform. He was then signed to Universal’s Interscope label in 2017, aged nineteen.
During a rapid rise to fame, Higgins appeared on a track on Travis Scott’s 2018 album ‘Astroworld’, titled ‘No Bystanders’. He also released collaborative mixtapes with Future and Ski Mask The Slump God, and earlier this year embarked on a co-headline tour of Europe with Nicki Minaj. He released two studio albums in his own right too – 2018’s ‘Goodbye And Good Riddance’, and ‘Death Race For Love’, which came out in March this year.
In October, his pop punk influence resulted in a lawsuit from the band Yellowcard, who accused him of lifting their 2006 song ‘Holly Wood Died’ for one of his most popular tracks, 2018’s ‘Lucid Dreams’.
That song also sampled ‘Shape Of My Heart’ by Sting, who called it a “beautiful interpretation that is faithful to the original song’s form”. Sting’s co-writer on the original, Dominic Miller, added that the rapper’s use of the song was “the most intelligent version of that riff that I’ve ever heard”.
In a statement yesterday, following confirmation of the rapper’s death, Interscope said: “Juice made a profound impact on the world in such a short period of time. He was a gentle soul, whose creativity knew no bounds, an exceptional human being and artist who loved and cared for his fans above everything else”.
“To lose someone so kind and so close to our hearts is devastating”, the label went on. “Our thoughts are with Juice’s family and friends … and his millions of fans around the world”.
Thomas Scherer of Higgins’ publishing company BMG also paid tribute to the rapper, saying in a statement: “Juice Wrld is one of the most ambitious, dynamic, and prolific artists of his time, with a unique style all his own. Above all, as a person, he was kind, thoughtful, and generous”.
“He had a vibrant soul, an authenticity full of energy, love, curiosity and music”, Scherer added. “We admire him as the person he was, as much as the person he was becoming. What he accomplished and achieved in such a short time, and at such a young age, is nothing short of extraordinary. We are absolutely devastated and mourn the loss of a young bright star gone far too soon”.
The Chicago police and fire departments have confirmed that they attended a medical emergency at a private hangar at Chicago’s Midway Airport at around 2am local time yesterday. Paramedics also attended and took the rapper to the nearby Christ Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 3.14am. A police spokesperson said that there were “no signs of foul play” and that those travelling with him were cooperating with officers.
TMZ reports that Higgins was travelling back to Chicago from California at the time of the medical emergency, and had a seizure after leaving the aeroplane.