Moody emo-trap-pop hits such as “Lucid Dreams” are the tracks most associated with SoundCloud king Juice Wrld. But the 21-year-old Chicago rapper, who passed away Sunday morning after an apparent seizure, crafted a sizable, diverse catalog for his ever-so-shadowy lyrical mien, touching on depression, drugs, doom and death to go with his silt and silken flow. Wrld was a savvy lyricist and rapper beyond his forlorn hits, and someone who professed equal love for hip-hop legends like Wu Tang Clan, contemporaries like Kid Cudi and rockers from Black Sabbath to Billy Idol. On top of that, his rep for collaboration and crafting features that outshone each track’s name brand star — from BTS to Elle Goulding — was impeccable.
Here are five songs that show off his range and roots:
1. “Legends” (2018)
“This time it was so unexpected,” sang Juice in a high warble to the strains of a reverberating acoustic guitar while talking about the deaths of friends and fellow emo rappers XXXTentacion and Lil Peep. Taken from his quickly released EP, “Too Soon,” Juice goes on to question the likes of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, in consideration of his just-passed pals (“What’s the ’27 Club’? / We ain’t making it past 21”) before taking on his own notion of what becomes a legend most: “I don’t want that title now.” As of this morning, he’s got it.
2. Kodak Black’s “MoshPit” (2018)
Over a soulful, spacious, ambient track with clinking percussion, each rapper discusses the mayhem of his rise to fame with varying degrees of ultra-violence. That the track also allows for silliness (“Rocking Tom Ford / Popping Molly / Eating calamari / No more Sloppy Joe”) shows that, despite their usual dour demeanor, these guys, Juice in particular, had a sense of humor.
3. Halsey’s “Without Me” remix (2019)
Though Juice has played the pop pairing game with the likes of Elle Goulding and BTS, this remix finds him playing with rubbery dance music with a willowy pop vocalist (Halsey) while besting Post Malone at his own watery electro-pop game.
4. “Wasted” featuring Lil Uzi Vert (2018)
Juice may have had a long and formidable relationship with Future on a handful of mixtapes and singles. But as far as fellow rappers go, this torrid track with Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert finds both men at their peaks, running equal doses demonic possession and pricey fast drugs, and numbing themselves into oblivion. “Get her off my mind when I’m wasted / She do cocaine in my basement / I’m her doctor, but I’m runnin’ out of patience / She told me that she tryna get closer to Satan / She be talkin’ to him when she in the matrix.”
5. “Robbery” (2018)
To the sounds of a plaintive piano and a tick-tock-ing beat, Juice does his best yelpy Wonder Years/Anthony Green impersonation while comparing having one’s heart stolen in love to larceny. And, of course, he manages to happily slip in something morose with “Now I’m digging up a grave, from my past.” Always a little Hammer horror with this guy.