Yesterday morning, the loss Jarad Anthony Higgins, known to millions fans as Juice WRLD, sent a ripple effect through the community. Fellow artists and listeners alike penned eulogies and homages, highlighting the impact his creativity and content. For many, his emo-inspired take on rap bridged the gap between genre barriers, widening the scope his impact to a variety demographics. And while many his more popular singles ranging from “Robbery,” “Lucid Dreams,” and “All Girls Are The Same” centered around melancholic melodies, Juice’s sensibilities as an emcee garnered a unique type respect from his contemporaries.
In a heartfelt Instagram post, fellow lyricist YBN Cordae paid respects to his friend, highlighting a commonality between them. “We shared the same bus,(your bus lol) and never slept cuz we’d be up freestyling for HOURS,” he wrote. “Since then a lifelong brotherhood was built.” A bond forged through a mutual appreciation for hip-hop music and the art lyricism, Juice WRLD and Cordae’s friendship served to highlight one the former’s status as a student the game. If it wasn’t always apparent from his musical choices, his admiration and aptitude for the act freestyling was pro in itself. His sheer prowess in that department was enough to make a believer out hip-hop media’s favorite stoic, Funkmaster Flex. The old-head archetype in his final form, Flex’s face could only contort with pleasure as Juice delivered bar-after-bar, many which appeared to be rattled f-top.
While Juice WRLD’s prolific work ethic led to many musical memories preserved, perhaps none shine brighter than his impressive stop on Tim Westwood TV. In a clip that has since garnered over five million views, Juice WRLD rapped for fifty-two minutes straight over some Eminem’s most popular beats, going completely f the dome. A feat that not many emcees would dare attempt, let alone pull f with quotables to match. For many, this video will serve as a reminder Juice’s talent, what separated him from others in his class. To be sitting on such keen lyrical instincts, using them sparingly and thus, making them all the more impressive. His preservation a seemingly lost art–the unwritten freestyle–speaks to a mentality well beyond his years. Clearly, Juice WRLD held an appreciation for the culture’s foundational roots and his predecessors.
The aforementioned “hour-long freestyle” has been embedded below, a bittersweet reminder the young man’s legacy. Between the flow-switches, eerily foreshadowing lyrics, the palpable sense fun, and the endearing lulls as he concocts his next move, Juice’s freestyle clinic may very well stand as a defining artistic moment. Even when his lyrics bridge the topic death, which certainly hurts given the circumstances, his clear sense enjoyment is a strong enough counterweight. Rest in peace, Juice WRLD. One the best freestylers we’ve seen in recent memory.