Juice WRLD, the skyrocketing rapper, singer, and songwriter born Jarad Anthony Higgins, has died at the age of 21. (You can read Vulture’s full obituary here.) Per the AP, police say Higgins experienced a cardiac arrest “medical emergency” on Sunday morning at Chicago’s Midway International Airport after he deplaned from his flight. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but was declared dead soon after his arrival. Higgins rapidly rose in popularity in 2018 thanks to his raw and emo-esque tracks “All Girls Are the Same” and “Lucid Dreams” from his debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, before pivoting to a more optimistically dystopian sound in 2019 with his second album, Death Race for Love. (We profiled him around that time.) He also frequently collaborated with other musicians, such as Benny Blanco, Ellie Goulding, and BTS, and did an entire mixtape with Future.
“Juice made a profound impact on the world in such a short period of time,” a statement from his record label, Interscope Geffen A&M, says. “He was a gentle soul, whose creativity knew no bounds, an exceptional human being and artist who loved and cared for his fans above everything else. To lose someone so kind and so close to our hearts is devastating. Our thoughts are with Juice’s family and friends, everyone at his label Grade A, and his millions of fans around the world.”
Social media condolences have been pouring in all day from friends, collaborators, and fans of Juice WRLD. “So sad,” Lil Nas X wrote, “how often this is happening lately to young talented rising artists.” Scroll down to read other reactions from Chance the Rapper, Drake, and more.
Update, December 9, at 10:30 a.m.: The private plane Juice WRLD arrived in at Chicago’s Midway airport was loaded with over 70 pounds of vacuum-sealed marijuana, as well as “six bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup, two 9 mm pistols, a .40-caliber pistol, a high-capacity ammunition magazine and metal-piercing bullet.” The Chicago Tribune added that officers and federal agents had been waiting for the plane to arrive “because they suspected” contraband items would be identified. No charges have yet been filed. Additionally, one of Juice WRLD’s friends told local authorities that he allegedly took “several unknown pills” prior to his medical emergency, and that he recently developed an addiction to Percocet.
Update, December 10, at 5:05 p.m.: A new report from TMZ alleges that Juice WRLD swallowed several Percocet pills to ensure they were hidden from federal agents. TMZ’s law enforcement sources say the rapper swallowed the pills sometime after deplaning, but before the agents began their search of the plane and luggage. This could have resulted in a “possible” accidental overdose, which triggered his medical emergency. An autopsy was performed on Monday afternoon, but additional toxicology, cardiac pathology, and neuropathology tests are required to confirm an official cause of death.