Hip-hop star Juice WRLD died Sunday morning, after suffering a medical emergency in the private jet section/terminal Chicago’s Midway Airport, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. The tragedy took place just six days after his 21st birthday.
“The Medical Examiner’s Office has been notified of the death of Jarad A. Higgins, a 21-year-old black male of the 18500 block of Pierce Terrace in Homewood Illinois,” Natalia Derevyanny, spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, said in a statement.
The statement did not reveal a cause of death, saying an autopsy had not yet been performed, but TMZ and Billboard have both reported that the rapper suffered a seizure at the airport and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the emergency room at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn around 2 a.m.
The Chicago rapper, who took up piano at age 4 and later learned to play guitar, trumpet, and drums, launched his independent career as a teenager in 2015, when he started regularly posting his songs to SoundCloud under the name JuicetheKidd. Many of his early tracks were recorded on a cell phone. He later changed his name to Juice WRLD as a way of announcing his intention to take over the world — which actually happened, thanks to his Zeitgeist-capturing, genre-blurring single breakout hit, “Lucid Dreams.”
That song racked up 2.5 million plays on SoundCloud, leading to a $3 million record contract with major label Interscope. An official release in 2018, described by Yahoo Entertainment as “a very interesting record, a mix of pop, rap, and almost baroque elements,” crossed over to the mainstream, eventually peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and going five-times platinum in the U.S. It has accumulated more that 1 billion total streams to date. Juice’s debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, went platinum and spawned another No. 2 single, “All Girls Are the Same.”
More recently, Juice WRLD recorded the original song “Hide” for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack and went to No. 1 with his second album, Death Race for Love, released in March this year. 2. Juice WRLD’s lyrics often explored themes of mental health and romantic betrayal — “Lucid Dreams” had been inspired by a broken relationship — and Death Race for Love continued this candor, with the lead single “Robbery” depicting Juice receiving dating advice from his father.
After the release of Death Race for Love, Juice embarked on a co-headlining European tour with Nicki Minaj and collaborated on various tracks with BTS, Ellie Goulding, Benny Blanco, and others. He was reportedly working on his third studio album. The last track released before his death, October’s “Bandit,” went to No. 10 on the Hot 100.
Many pop and hip-hop stars took to social media to pay tribute to the rapper after hearing the shocking news.