While listening to Juice Wrld’s “Wasted” collab with living legend Lil Uzi Vert, I came to an epiphany. After floating through a chorus that pays homage to the legendary Grand Theft Auto series and melodically discusses an unhealthy relationship with a girl who, like JuiceWrld, has a self-destructive relationship with drugs, the rapper opens his first verse with a question: “Damn, why is she so demonic?” From there, my epiphany hit me harder than the narcotics he ingests on a daily basis. Not only can most of us relate to being stuck in a situation where we feel like our significant other is kin to Lucifer, we are also witnessing rap’s next biggest star (if you need further evidence, check out the YouTube views).
As Hip-Hop has always valued authenticity and individuality, it is a genre that changes constantly. In 2018, the rap scene is now filled with elements of the 2000s punk rock/metal-era. Now this is by no means a new phenomenon; Run DMC and Aerosmith paved the way for rap/rock crossovers with their 1980s single, “Walk This Way.” With a once closed door pried open, talents like Kid Cudi and Lil’ Wayne continued to experiment with the sound and in doing so birthed a new generation of rappers. Artists like JuiceWrld, Lil’ Yachty, Uzi and Playboi Carti have fully blended seemingly contrasting styles, giving kids who found themselves tied up in a relationship between rap and rock something of their own. Some call it weirdo/emo rap. Others don’t call it rap at all. If one thing is for certain, the artistry alone is something to marvel at, as these new kids are legitimate rockstars. And when I say rockstars, I mean crowd-diving, moshpit-starting rockstars. In Juice Wrld’s case, his lyrics reflect a depressed and anxious generation that depends on excessive drug use to deal with heartbreak, mental strife, and the side effects of those feelings. Just check out “Lucid Dreams,” his debut hit, in which the 19-year-old rattles off the lyrics, “I take prescriptions to make me feel a-okay, I know it’s all in my head, I have these lucid dreams where i can’t move a thing.” While the glamorization of unhealthy coping methods isn’t to be trivialized, music like Juice Wrld’s has the potential to connect with kids adversely affected by trauma and help them understand they aren't alone in the fight to find happiness within.
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