Juice WRLD is the child our mother and father warned us about. The Midwest rapper/singer grew up in a strict, non secular family barred from listening to hip-hop. His musical schooling got here from video video games, within the period the place console energy beefed up significantly, and soundtracks for franchises like Tony Hawk Pro Skater made punk and metallic followers out youngsters who’d by no means encountered the stuff earlier than. Juice discovered rap in center college by way of the music Future. By 13, he was experimenting with the medication he heard about within the information. By 18, he’d give up lean and drugs, however his dalliances with each knowledgeable a abruptly promising rap profession. Like his Atlanta rap hero, Juice WRLD’s profession is a chilling paradox: What practically destroyed his life is now the supply his continued prosperity. He tries to steadiness lyrics about partying with the reality in regards to the pitfalls drug dependency and self-medication, however his behavior freestyling his songs as an alternative giving his phrases extra consideration makes for some performances that gesture at depth with out delivering it. This month’s new Death Race for Love is a set passionate songs about doing unhealthy and feeling worse that periodically get derailed by moments laughable sad-boy boilerplate.
“Lucid Dreams,” the hit that put the Illinois rapper on so much listeners’ radars final 12 months, exemplifies the mechanics the Juice WRLD sound. It’s a rapidly written vamp round a widely known melody that, the place it soars, feels so much like unfastened items bygone popular culture colliding. It’s forlorn nearly to the purpose being cloying, like an individual imitating the stereotypical vocal tics and material a very jilted emo tune. It shouldn’t work. The hook looks like a fluke, an ideal sequence phrases and notes found on accident. Juice WRLD toys with sights and sounds with out the luggage their cultural significance. He by no means heard the Sting track his multi-platinum promoting hit sampled. His melodic sensibilities had been gleaned partly from enjoying so much Guitar Hero. Death Race for Love is maybe most fascinating when considered as a chunk millennial collage artwork. The cowl evokes the PlayStation demolition derby sport Twisted Metal four. The title invokes the ’70s carsploitation cult flick Death Race 2000 (or else the tawdry 2008 Jason Statham remake). The beats experiment with acquainted sounds, each by way of sampling and thru cautious excursions into different genres. “Make Believe” flips Pharcyde’s “Runnin’.” “Fast” feels like a lure producer’s tackle Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me.” Pop-punk songs bounce out within the center.
Death Race sounds so much like what we think about a dystopian future would appear to be. Recognizable items the previous have been stripped for elements and reused in ways in which the creators may not have meant, like Mad Max. The world these information depict is forbidding. The character Juice performs is that a druggie on the verge collapse, wandering by way of a wasteland on substances as he tries to seek out somebody to finish his spiral earlier than it ends him. The idea is cool. The execution lives and dies on Juice’s potential to emote. “Fast” is a crushing phrase about feeling such as you’re shedding management your life’s trajectory. “10 Feet” sells sensible traces and complicated rhyme patterns that revisit the rapper’s days because the SoundCloud freestyle artist JuicetheKidd. “Syphilis” revisits the drill rap sounds popularized by his house state, then “Who Shot Cupid?” locates the perfect combine moody acoustic guitars and thumping low finish. When he desires to, Juice WRLD has depth, vary, and flexibility. But it looks like generally what he desires is simply to coast.
But at 22 tracks in 72 minutes, Death Race provides Juice WRLD too many alternatives to fall again on his worst inventive tendencies. The affect style hybridizers like Post Malone and Lil Uzi Vert is palpable. “Big” blends fast phrasing and Auto-Tune identical to Travis Scott. The higher register notes in “Rider” sound like Swae Lee. “Robbery” nicks Trippie Redd’s yarl. There are too many rehashed prospers — “Maze” is like microwaved leftovers “Lucid Dreams” — and too many ill-conceived traces. “HeMotions” spins out when Juice says “I’m again on my bullshit — satan emoji.” “Syphilis” hits a pace bump on “I can change something, received them Obama eyes.” “Feeling” is a rocky sequence shaky traces: “Do it by my VLONE.” “Momma advised me I gotta keep centered / Told her I’m not a Ford Focus.” “Boys, ain’t no ‘I’ in group nevertheless it’s an ‘M-E’ in group / I meant it’s a ‘me’ in group / I do know I simply fucked up, however bitch, I’m nonetheless the freestyle king.” Freestyle kings are allowed to make errors and go to one another’s vocal tics, and Juice brings so much to the desk in spite the sensation that he’s nonetheless discovering his footing carrying polished studio full lengths on his personal. But the rap sport is so much like a demolition derby. Crash, and that’s that ass. Death Race sputters in spots, however the efficiency is presented sufficient to avert disaster.