Chicago-born rapper Juice WRLD, one of a wave of young artists who earned attention on streaming platforms before breaking out as chart-toppers and social media celebrities, died Sunday at the age of 21, according to local authorities.
A spokeswoman from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Illinois confirmed the death of the rapper, born Jarad Higgins, at 3:14 am (0914 GMT). An autopsy has been set for Monday.
Police told AFP that a 21-year-old man had suffered a medical emergency at Chicago’s Midway International Airport after getting off a private jet.
Celebrity news outlet TMZ reported that Higgins had suffered a seizure.
Juice WRLD’s breakout single Lucid Dreams, rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2018, with his follow-up album Death Race for Love debuting in first place on the Billboard 200 earlier this year.
“Juice made a profound impact on the world in such a short period of time,” his label Interscope Records said in a statement. “To lose someone so kind and so close to our hearts is devastating.”
Lucid Dreams quickly re-entered the top 10 on the US iTunes site as news of his death spread.
The rapper was of a generation known as the “SoundCloud rappers” — a subgenre that takes its name from the streaming platform where its artists first find fame.
The crop of rappers in recent years has become a disruptive movement in hip-hop, combining a lo-fi underground sound with raw, often emotionally laden lyrics leading some to dub them “emo rappers.”
These musicians whose careers are built on internet stardom often rap about popping drugs, notably Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.
Along with prescription medication, the subculture’s aesthetic includes face tattoos and neon-dyed hair.
‘I have a lot going for me’
The SoundCloud scene has launched careers and sales figures but the lives of its figures are often volatile.
XXXTentacion was murdered in 2018, while Tekashi69, seeking leniency on serious racketeering and weapons charges, this year was a star government witness at the trial of alleged former gang associates.
And in 2017, the rapper Lil Peep died at age 21 of what was declared an accidental overdose of fentanyl and Xanax.
Speaking to The New York Times in 2018, Juice WRLD said that he used Xanax heavily as a teenager but was aiming to curb his drug use.
“I have a lot going for me, I recognize it’s a lot of big things, a lot of big looks. I want to be there, and you don’t have to overdose to not be there,” he told the Times.
Music and industry insiders took to social media to pay tribute to the rapper upon learning of his shock death.
“Wow, I can not believe this. Rip my brother juice world,” tweeted fellow rapper Lil Yachty.
“rip juice,” tweeted breakout star Lil Nas X. “so sad how often this is happening lately to young talented rising artists.”