REVIEW: Juice WRLD’s ‘Death Race for Love’

Follow WHIP Twitter Facebook Instagram WRITTEN BY: Drew Bishop Juice WRLD stans hoping for a sequel to Goodbye and Good Riddance, may have been disappointed after seeing the Playstation-themed cover art for Death Race For Love, but their feelings are likely short-lived after hearing the project. Ever since his entrance on the mainstream stage with standout track “Lucid Dreams,” Juice has hit the ground running. Furthermore, after two weeks released, Death Race For Love has remained at number 1 on the Billboard top 200 album chart, proving that this new-age of emo rap isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sticking to his roots in his sophomore debut, 20-year old Jarad Higgins, also known as Juice WRLD, continues to blend his balance of drugs and romance with catchy beats and teenage angst to provide another hit record.
Higgins opens his sophomore expedition with the song “Empty,” produced by Nick Mira, reminding us that he’s the same self-medicating, sad boy who stepped on the scene last May. The entire album’s tone is set with the hook’s standout line: “I problem solve with Styrofoam,” referencing Higgins’s recreational use of codeine to heal his heartbreak. This is a Juice WRLD standard since he entered the game, filling the void in his soul with heavy drugs or romance, oftentimes both. Combine this with his pitched voice wailing “Empty, I feel so god damn empty” and listeners are assured that despite Higgins’s flourishing love life, he is ready to deliver emotional bars that have become his trademark. It is clear as Higgins continues, that his dependence on drugs at a young age is consistent as it was a year ago. The following track “Maze,” details a deadly cycle of popping pills and sipping lean to tame his mental pain, only to have those same drugs push his torment further. He informs us on the first verse, “I sip ill, pop pills, crack seals, doing anything to numb the weight that I feel,” and that “Without drugs I’m losing my logic, these pills and my Pro Tools still got logic.” These uncomplicated, catchy lines accompanied by Higgins’s teenage angst voice and a dark beat from Don Mills, Jahaan Sweet, and Boi-1da is the Juice WRLD formula from Goodbye and Good Riddance that fans adored. However, not even the catchiest hook can distract from the sorrow Higgins demonstrates throughout this record. This theme flows throughout Death Race For Love, even penetrating the catchiest songs such as “Feeling,” a song about Juice WRLD’s push for money and the feeling it gives him being akin to popping percocets. Dark lyrics like “I got a feeling, percs help me feel it, I feel it, problems I numb and conceal them,” in front of a quirky, ringtone-like beat, show the duality of Juice WRLD’s identity. He is able to create a song to make the hips stir, yet accompanies it with his emotional scars, two opposing elements. Yet while the recreational drug use side of Higgins is highlighted throughout this record, die-hard fans can recognize the glimmer of light in his soul from his recently sparked romance. On track nine, “Flaws And Sins” Higgins blends some country elements, perhaps inspired by Young Thug’s experimental Beautiful Thugger Girls, to show his adoration for his woman. On the chorus, in a southern accent, Juice proclaims: “I’m all, I’m really all in, in love with all your flaws and sins, your scars are really gorgeous.” It is evident he deeply cares, but the reversal of his use of substances is the true teller, “I done chilled out on the drugs since you’ve been involved.” Other tracks such as “She’s The One” show a side of Higgins that was not present in his debut album. The line “She’s my ever-everything, I need her more than anything, she’s my tranquility” alongside Higgins’s dreamy tone gives audiences hope that his passion for love can be stronger than his desire for drugs. This is what separates Death Race For Love from Goodbye and Good Riddance’s pessimistic attitude towards romance, specifically girls. Comparing tracks like “All Girls Are The Same” that insist there is no hope for Higgins, to a song like “Desire” that states: “The girl of my dreams is sitting next to me,” show the evolution of the heart before and after mending a insufferable breakup. While the drugs and romance are ever-present throughout the work, the 22 song tracklist could be cut down, leaving a much cleaner project. Songs such as “Rider” and “Fast” emit themes about love and life that have been echoed by many rappers, including Higgins in past works, making them forgettable tracks. Artists such as Migos, Drake, and Wiz Khalifa all stuffed their albums with 25 songs this summer, which allows fans a wide selection, but also digs a massive song graveyard of forgettable works that can leave a scar on an overall record. Higgins follows this trend, likely to the chagrin of audiences. However, he balances this with a measly three features, from singers Brent Faiyaz and Clever, as well as a killer Young Thug feature on “ON GOD.” Higgins highlighting his own talents throughout the album, rather than cranking out 12 feature songs in hopes of hitting another radio hit is a respectable approach, especially for a young, money-hungry rapper. In all, Death Race For Love avoids many surprises, as Juice WRLD sticks to his winning formula through and through, with a few detours along the way to show us the change in his heart from last May to present day. Expressing the void in his soul filled by recreational drugs and long-winded romance, Higgins provides a record that stays true to his identity and continues to move hearts and bodies.

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