Juice WRLD: Fighting Demons album review


The most moving part of the first edition WRLD Day Juice Celebration was when his former DJ, Mike P, stepped out into the crowd to talk to fans about how the late Chicago rapper changed their lives. They said they discovered Juice in high school and credit him for helping them overcome depression and mental illness. A fan showed a tattoo of the lyrics to the song “Life’s a Mess” on her arm. Many were on the verge of tears as they shared their memories. “Whenever I need a high all I need is to play Juice WRLD,” said one as the crowd of thousands rose up.

Although he’s been making music since at least 2015, the impact Juice has left on the world in just a year and a half – his single “Lucid dreamsDebuted on May 4, 2018, and died of an overdose on December 8, 2019 — is nothing short of remarkable. He used rap, pop-punk and emo just as this combination became the go-to formula for a new generation of rising SoundCloud stars. His songs were often juvenile but always honest; they were the link for his raw unfiltered emotion.

The universal appeal of Juice WRLD’s music has never come at the expense of abandoning his rap roots or his new image as an artist. The respect he gave to the struggles he and his fans endured has persisted in the music released since his death. 2020s Legends never die largely avoided the pitfalls of the average posthumous rap album: most of the songs used were as complete as possible, features were minimal, and its promotion was tame and respectful. Fight demons—Juice’s posthumous second album — can’t necessarily claim that third part, since its release is tied to both an Amazon-sponsored concert and an HBO documentary. But musically, Demons attempts to be more of the same, highlighting the best and worst qualities of a generational talent that left too soon.

Demons was taken from the same pool of thousands of intense and deeply personal songs that Juice recorded before his death. His voice is expansive and tumbles through melodies and raps about the life running through him in a haze of drugs, suicidal thoughts and thoughts of living forever through his own reckless actions. At one point, on “Already Dead”, he admits that his fans and his music are the only things that keep him alive. It never gets any less harsh or difficult to hear Juice exorcise these demons, and there is value in how her franchise continues to connect with listeners. At its best, on songs like “Wandered to LA” and “Doom,” the pain feels near, like you can touch it. At worst, the moments can get bland (“Feline”) or sink into punchline stupidity that doesn’t suit the heaviness of the material (“From My Window”). None of the songs sound like demos scratched from the bottom of the barrel, but there is little connection between them other than being unreleased.

Both Legends and Demons were reunited by his estate and his collaborators after his death, but Legends was a definite statement on Juice’s legacy; his intention and purpose were clear. For all the pomp and circumstances, Demons looks like little more than a collection of songs put together for themselves. The songs seem complete but there is no rhyme or reason for their sequencing. The few features are solid – Justin Bieber’s coda on “Wandered to LA” and BTS member Suga’s verse on “Girl of My Dreams” clearly noticeable – but unnecessary, names pasted on an old vision board. No individual song tarnishes Juice’s reputation, but there’s also no defining moment – no crazy posthumous verse or depth discovered about Juice as a person – to hang onto, either.

You can fill a posthumous album with good songs, but if there is no reason for it to exist, then its only purpose is to sell an image. Mac Miller Circles was at least a 2018 companion To swim he was actively working on before his sudden death. Ditto the late Philadelphia rapper Chynna, whose very solid posthumous album drug opera went unnoticed last year. These albums had a purpose and a vision. Fight demons is too polished to be considered a total mess and his heart is in the right place, but it’s hard to think of him as anything other than another product falling off a long assembly line fueled by dead rappers.


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