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JUICE WRLD,
NO GIMMICKS

At the end of 2017, 19 year-old Juice WRLD released “All Girls Are The Same” on SoundCloud. It resonated within the platform and was a mainstay at the top of their chart by February. On 2/15, Cole Bennett released the video via his artist-breaking vlog, Lyrical Lemonade, and that was enough to start the signing contest. The video garnered 4.7m views in a month. The song remained #1 on SoundCloud’s Top 50, and Juice WRLD finalized a recording contract with Interscope reportedly worth $3m by mid-March.

That’s a somewhat tame story when it comes to inking deals in 2018, when memes and cringeworthy Instagram clickbait have become the bridge to major label A&R (Bhad Babie, 6ix9ine, MasonRamsey). But the lack of story is the story. There is no left-of-center narrative attached to Juice WRLD that we’ve become so accustomed to. And his rise to the top of the Spotify and Apple Music charts wasn’t handcuffed by a Drake, Kendrick or any other superstar feature. The “rollout” consisted simply of releasing music on Spotify and Apple Music with the arrival of “Lucid Dreams.”

“Lucid Dreams” quietly climbed the Spotify Top 50 throughout May, when Drake, Post Malone, and Migos hold court. By 5/22, it had cracked the Top 10 and Interscope decided to drop his debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, that night. The album bowed in the Top 20 just off two days of consumption (due to a Wednesday release). It charted at #8 and #6 the two weeks following. Despite being bumped by a swarm of Kanye releases in early June, “Lucid Dreams” returned to top the chart, signifying it’s more than just a cult hit.

Juice WRLD’s sound has proven to be more substantial than most artists transitioning from SoundCloud to the mainstream. Most notably, he channels the heart and intent of the late Lil Peep—combined with infectious hooks reminiscent of Post Malone. With no narrative and the lack of a proper rollout, Juice WRLD is proof that sometimes it’s just about the music.

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