Juice WRLD's Death Race for Love is a lesson in hip-hop versatility
The Chicago rapper's second album, Death Race for Love, comes off the back of his Australian festival debut at Falls Festival.
Juice WRLD is a rapper you probably know by now. In just two years, the 20-year-old Chicago name has built himself up as one of the front-runners for hip-hop's hazy and down-tempo future path, marrying his influences in everyone from Kanye and Travis Scott right through to Megadeth and Black Sabbath to create a genre-bending, rock-infused take on the recent 'emo-rap' dominance, becoming one of the world's leading new names in the process. His second major single, last year's runaway hit Lucid Dreams, went 2x Platinum in Australia and 4x Platinum in the US and the album it came from, his debut Goodbye & Good Riddance, debuted in the Billboard top five. He signed to Interscope Records with a deal worth multi-millions, released collaborations with everyone from Lil Uzi Vert and Future to Travis Scott and pop super-producer Benny Blanco and his debut Australian shows earlier this year as a part of Falls Festival saw him play in front of packed-out crowds despite heavy timetable clashing.
If 2018 was the year Juice WRLD broke out and began to dominate, 2019 is the year where he truly blossoms as an artist and sets himself forward as one of hip-hop's most dominant names. Barely three months into 2019, he's already on the path to becoming one of the rare, once-cult-followed rappers to completely capture full mainstream attention, teaming up with Halsey to remix her chart-topping Without Me in the midst of The Nicki Wrld Tour - a multi-continent, three-month spanning collaborative world tour with Nicki Minaj. Now, he arrives with Death Race for Love, his second major label album that comes with the promise of pushing Juice WRLD even further into the spotlight - but does it?
Death Race for Love, if anything, provides a sense of certainty for Juice WRLD's big year ahead. It's essentially an extension on his Lucid Dreams break-out that goes a little further, a little deeper and a little weirder. Spanning 22 tracks and 72 minutes in length, Juice has plenty of room to move on Death Race for Love, but also plenty of room for filler tracks and moments less than memorable - something that's come with many of the bloated, long-form hip-hop albums to arrive in the last twelve months - however unlike his peers, Juice keeps it relatively compact and concise, using the breathing room to welcome collaborators and new sounds. Robbery sees Juice WRLD's crackling tone meet twinkling keys and thick, swelling bass kicks, while ON GOD unites a hazy production with Young Thug's ability to mould and adapt to any production he's placed over - from Jamie XX's tropical steel drums to moments to Metro Boomin's weighty percussion. Maze channels his break-out hit with its easy-listening accessibility, while Demonz welcomes recent Australian visitor Brent Faiyaz for a strong, but short minute-thirty of washed away soul.
There's plenty of moments on Death Race for Love where Juice WRLD strives and not many moments where he trembles, a pretty big feat for a record that takes on so many sounds and styles. "I have songs for the trap house, songs for the sock hop, songs for the Caribbeans, songs for raves, songs for slow dancing," he said to Rolling Stone in the lead-up to the record in a recent interview and on Death Race for Love, this certainly holds true. There's plenty of the formulaic sad-boy rap that saw him become an internationally-dominating household name, but there's a lot more in there too. Juice WRLD isn't an artist to keep things safe, and Death Race for Love proves that he's got a whole lot more to show.
Juice WRLD's second album Death Race for Love is out now.
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