Writer: Kyle Wheelock
Juice WRLD, real name Jarad Higgins, is the latest act to break out of the Soundcloud ether with his debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance. If you haven’t heard of him, it’s fine, his popularity is relatively newfound; he came to prominence with the release of his song, “Lucid Dreams,” last summer. The song was huge for Juice, racking up 33 million plays at the time of writing and he quickly followed it up with, “All Girls Are the Same,” which has also found its own success. These two tracks helped him land a deal with Interscope back in March, and now a debut album.
Being a product of the Soundcloud landscape, a lot of Juice’s music has that typical Soundcloud sound, punchy kick drums, a dreamy, ethereal synth progression, autotune, etc. You know it when you hear it, and it’s all over this album 15 tracks (12 songs, 3 cringeworthy skits that I would advise skipping/deleting if you can). Sonically, this album doesn’t sound different that every other rapper on Soundcloud, so if you aren’t a fan of the sound or are getting tired of it, know what you’re getting into before you listen to this project.
All that being said, it’s Juice’s lyrics and voice that makes this album for me. Vocally, Juice WRLD can sound like Post Malone at times, like on the tracks, “I’m Still,” and, “Black & White,” just to name a few. This isn’t a bad thing for me personally, I like Post Malone’s singing voice, especially on his older songs like, “White Iverson,” and, “Too Young,” so hearing Juice WRLD bring the same vibe to his album is a plus in my opinion (plus, you can’t really help what your voice sounds like, so I can’t really knock him for being a copycat when that’s just something you’re born with). What really sold Juice WRLD to me was his lyrics and subject matter.
While he raps and sings over typical sounding Soundcloud trap beats, Juice is talking about heartbreak, loneliness, drug abuse, and depression instead of just counting money and designer clothes. Before I get too carried away, I wanna give a disclaimer and let you all know that Juice WRLD’s music isn’t a To Pimp a Butterfly level lyrical masterpiece or anything like that, he’s just a guy that has trust issues from past relationships and it shows in his music. “Lucid Dreams,” was the track that really got me hooked on the guy, because it’s lyrically a song about trying to get over an ex, and failing. The chorus opens the song with, “I still see your shadows in my room / Can’t take back the love that I gave you / It’s to the point where I love and I hate you / And I cannot change you, so I must replace you,” and it only gets sadder from there.
What throws you off about this is that the beats again are just how basic and happy they are, it’s turn up music until you listen closely, and then you start hearing some real downer lyrics like on, “Candles,” where you get, “I don’t know if it’s because my heart hurts or if I’m insecure / Baby, you’re not her / My last girl had me so f***** up it was a blacked out blur,” which would throw you for a loop if you weren’t expecting it. Again, not the deepest songwriting I’ve ever seen, but I still feel like it’s more substantive than anything someone like Lil Yachty or Playboi Carti has done. And I get it, not everyone cares about deep lyrical meaning in music, and that’s fine, I totally see the appeal of it, but again for me personally, music that has some sort of meaning or point it’s trying to get across ends up having more replayability in the long run.
And again, it was the lyrics in his songs that drew me in, that’s what made him stand out from other Soundcloud rappers, and Juice knows this because he sticks to the same aesthetic for the entire project. Every song on here keeps the same, self-destructive, sadboy tone lyrically to contrast the catchy, upbeat, and bouncy beats underneath them, and I can respect that. Admittedly, the quality of these songs kind of tails of with the last 3 or so songs, some of the lyrics made me make the Nick Young face from time to time, and the later songs don’t hit the way, “Lucid Dreams,” and, “All Girls Are the Same,” do. But, even then they’re (a) still decent songs and (b) stay within the theme that’s been established.
Goodbye & Good Riddance may not be a perfect album, it can get repetitive and some of the lines will make your eyes roll (“She love drama, she be watching Jerry Springer / Next thing you know, we all on Jerry Springer”? Come on man), but as a whole it’s an interesting mix of emo songwriting and simple but energetic beats that you can throw on at a party and probably get away with it, which fits my personality perfectly and is why I like this as much as I do despite its shortcomings. So yes, I like it, and would recommend it if you’ve got some time to kill, but be sure you take those skits out if you can because they’re definitely the low points of the album for me.
TL;DR: Goodbye & Good Riddance is a good debut, I like it.
Highlights: “All Girls Are the Same,” “Lucid Dreams,” “Lean Wit Me,” and, “Scared of Love”