On the day Juice WRLD’s first posthumous album, Legends Never Die, released, it was pouring in Philadelphia. It’s hard not to imagine the sky weeping—tears of anguish or joy; I couldn’t tell you—in honor of the late Chicago rapper, hitmaker, and certified lifesaver. Juice WRLD’s music dealt in heartbreak and depression, addiction, and overcoming. He gave his fans hope. He was hip-hop’s radiant light.
Juice WRLD was only 21 when he passed, but it felt as if his music had been in our general consciousness for far longer. He felt seasoned in his approach—just watch his hour-long freestyles. With Juice, every performance was a smash; every lyric a chance to reach out to a fan and touch them in a way they may have never been before. He was all-seeing. He was a generational talent.
Legends Never Die makes good on Juice’s baked-in promise to be there for fans. The album is rightfully precious and made with Juice WRLD’s wishes and fans in mind. There is evident care poured into this record. Legends Never Die is not overstuffed with features, presents real growth from Death Race For Love, pulls at the strings of early releases like the Juiced Up EP from 2016, and stays true to Juice’s lyrical ethos.
The interludes across this album speak directly to Juice WRLD’s influence and legacy and feel like letters from Juice and his circle to those mourning his loss. Consider the way the album opens with “Anxiety,” and with Juice’s saying he is here to change the world in any way he can. Legends feels like a statement of purpose and an assertion of goodness.
“If anybody’s going through anything, I hope and I pray that you get through it. And just know that you do have the strength to get through whatever the fuck you goin’ through, no matter what it is.”—Juice WRLD, “Get Through It”
In particular, the “Get Through It” interlude feels like a direct moment of kindness. The inclusion of this and other small messages like it give Legends Never Die a communal air. The estate realizes Juice WRLD’s weight and import to fans, and his uncanny ability to help listeners through the fogs of depression, anxiety, and whatever else they may be facing. While the interludes offer a space of conversation between fans and Juice, the music across Legends shines as a means of communicating Juice’s care for his listeners.
Take “Bad Energy,” where Juice admits, “I watch the crowd and crack a smile / I have a job to lead them out.” Take the 13th song, “Fighting Demons,” where Juice sings, “Take my hand / Don’t give up.” Take the prophetic “Can’t Die,” which feels like a song written by Juice’s loved ones and those who loved his music, explicitly addressed to Juice himself. Single “Righteous” ends with “I will see,” which feels like a promise from Juice to fans that he will make it through, despite the highly emotive and painful subject matter of “Righteous” itself.
Earlier, on “Titanic,” we get some of Juice WRLD’s most inspired writing with a single line: “My demons show their face in the midnight air.” “Titanic,” like most of Legends Never Die, shows us Juice WRLD was growing ever-more with his pen. His imagery was evolving. Juice was in process—he would not stagnate.
“Wishing Well” is the true centerpiece of Legends Never Die. A serious look at Juice WRLD’s story and his guilt and internal struggles, “Wishing Well” is the harrowing word over the word, but still, Juice finds a way to reach out to fans with abject honesty: “This is the part where I tell you I’m fine, but I’m lying / I just don’t want you to worry.” So much of “Wishing Well” deals with Juice’s addictions and how he wrestles with drugs’ impact on his career and creativity:
“Let’s be for real / If it wasn’t for the pills, I wouldn’t be here / But if I keep taking these pills, I won’t be here, yeah / I just told y’all my secret, yeah / It’s tearing me to pieces”—Juice WRLD, “Wishing Well”
The above lines stop us in our tracks. We realize Juice WRLD is so critically self-aware, it’s destroying him in a sense. At this point, we turn to the “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” interlude, wherein many of Juice’s peers speak on his immense talent as an artist, freestyler, and hitmaker. Nowhere during those messages does anyone imply Juice would be nothing without his vices, simply because the talent was innate to Juice. The interlude is a strong foil to Juice WRLD’s present insecurities and continues the conversational nature of the album. “What Juice was to our generation, bro, and the impact he had on us is what Biggie did for New York, for real,” says G Herbo to close out the interlude.
On closer, “Man Of The Year,” we hear Juice say: “I know my lyrics saved you,” but it’s not with pomp. Instead, it’s a sobering reminder Juice WRLD understood his role within music. It’s not the first time Juice has signaled his impact on his fans—remember “I was put here to lead the lost souls” from 2019’s “Empty”—and it’s not even the last on Legends, which ends affirmatively with a voice recording of Juice reminding fans he’ll always be with them: “I love y’all to death.”
Stream Man Of The Year
These little touches make this album rightfully precious, make Legends feel like a two-way letter between fans and Juice himself. Just as Mac Miller’s final album was not merely about Malcolm, but all of us, so too is Legends Never Die a symbol of the depth of a healthy artist-fan relationship.
Following the death of Juice WRLD, The New Yorker’s Briana Younger penned “The Beautiful Vulnerability of Juice WRLD.” In it, she wrote: “The world often speaks of black boys and their anger but rarely their sadness; Juice forced us to see. He poured out his anxieties, fears, and insecurities in harrowing detail, painting pictures of depression—low energy, isolating, destructive depression—with unblinking candor.”
Younger’s description here captures precisely what made Juice WRLD special to hip-hop and his fans. He was living catharsis, and Legends Never Die keeps the great relief of Juice’s music alive.