I can't get in the car and turn on the radio any more without hearing Juice WRLD's
"Lucid Dreams." The first time I heard it I immediately thought of Sting's "Shape of
My Heart" which of course it samples from, but producer Mira is hardly the first
in rap to jack it -- everybody from Nas to Pastor Troy has done it at least once.
I'm stretching the definition of "rap" in that sentence though because nothing Juice
WRLD does in the song sounds like rapping to me. He croons and wails about how he
had his heart broken and how he still sees visions of his love in the song's titular
dreams, and in "lucid" dreams you can actually interact with and control the dream's
environment to some extent because you've actually realized it's just a dream.
Jarad Higgins may feel like he's living in such a scenario right now, since he's
already experienced more at only 19 than most people do in an entire lifetime. He
quickly rose from mixtape artist who recorded songs for Soundcloud on his cell phone
to signing a three million dollar record deal with Interscope and having a viral
video distributed by Lyrical Lemonade that as of this writing has been viewed over
200 MILLION TIMES. At the pace he's going he could blow past Psy's "Gangnam
Style" before long. This success has led to everybody and their momma wanting to
work with him, collaborate with him, do remixes for him, and record albums with him.
"Wrld On Drugs" may be the biggest to date, an entire album co-starring Atlanta
phenom Future, a rapper who exploded
onto the scene just as quickly as Juice back in the early 2010's and who has since
spawned dozens upon dozens of imitators of his style and sound. Some might even
argue that "Lucid Dreams" was a reinterpretation of trap style taken to the furthest
extent where "rapping" seems to be secondary to tuned up studio vocal manipulation.
It sometimes feels like this is what the entire "Rap Wrld" is turning into -- one
long mixtape that's been produced and distributed by Schmoyoho. Hip-Hop in the late
2010's just seems to want to "Songify" everything. "Transformer" featuring Nicki
Minaj from "Wrld On Drugs" is the perfect example of this phenomenon.
Getting cameos of Nicki's caliber for this album was not a problem given Juice's
rapid ascent and Future's already established clout. You can find
Lil Wayne on "Oxy,"
Young Thug on "Red Bentley" and
Gunna on "Ain't Livin Right" to name a few. The fastest rising song from the
album though features no guest appearances, though the fact it's produced by
"Wheezy" might confuse you. Just to clarify -- Lil Wayne is Dwayne Carter,
while the "Wheezy" here is actually producer Wesley Glass. Anyway here's a taste
of their songified duet, clocking in at a short two minutes and 22 seconds.
It's worthwhile to note this album's title and unapologetic stance about lean
use hasn't gone unnoticed given the recent passing of Mac Miller, though it's not like this is exactly a
new phenomenon. DJ Screw passed away of a codeine overdose way back in 2000, and
one of the artists who paid tribute to him most -- Pimp C -- passed away in almost
the exactly same way in 2007. Even within the last year before Mac Miller overdosed
Lil Peep was taken too soon, and it has been speculated (though not proven) that
many of Lil Wayne's seizures are related to his enthusiasm for "drank" as well.
Juice WRLD has even gone on record saying he abused drugs all throughout high
school. I hate to sound like the old man in the room (even though I am) so I'm
just going to say this -- if you black out from overdosing on drugs or alcohol
or get knocked out with a concussive blow it's the SAME THING. You are
sustaining a brain injury either way and if you're in your teens your brain and
body are both still growing and haven't fully matured yet. I'm not telling anyone
what to do or not to do, only asking everyone to consider the consequences that
abusing prescription drugs, codeine and alcohol could have later in life. Who
wants to have dementia and short term memory loss in their 30's and 40's -- if
you even make it that long? The people I've mentioned in this paragraph can't
be considered examples to emulate -- they are tragic warnings of the consequences.
You're only 19 years old Juice so please young'n just slow down a little bit.
As for "Wrld On Drugs" the album falls into the same category as so many mainstream
charting rap albums (again using the term "rap" loosely) do these days -- it's aight
but it's not my thing. Do you like lots of bass? "Different" featuring Yung Bans and
"No Issue" are guaranteed to vibrate your car. Do you like songs about flossing hard
and blowing lots of money? The aforementioned "Red Bentley" and "Make It Back" definitely
fit that vibe. Calling a song "Afterlife" feels eerily accurate given the drug abuse
issues we've discussed, but I can't say it's not a catchy DY and Wheezy produced song
and comes as close to "rapping" as either of the rappers here do. In fact Wheezy can
be largely credit for giving "Wrld On Drugs" a polished and clean sound, save for a
few select tracks like "Red Bentley" (produced by Murda Beatz) and "Oxy" (produced
by Richie Souf) -- other than that Wheezy is in the liner notes over and over again.
It can't help but make me think he could probably just Schmoyoho any two artists
and get the same results, but Future's got that established trap rap style and Juice
is that style reincarnated, so if any two people could/should collab' on it it's them.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10