Legends never die. Juice Wrld continues to be the voice of a generation with the arrival of his third studio album. This is the first posthumous LP from the rapper since his passing last December. In honor of Juice's Legends Never Die album, he graces the cover of a special digital edition of XXL magazine, released today (July 10).
Lil Bibby, CEO of Grade A Productions alongside his brother, G-Money, and Peter Jideonwo, partner and COO of Grade A Productions, speak to XXL about the making of the album, which the 21-year-old Chicago native first spoke about with XXL for his Fall 2019 cover story. Grade A is the label Juice is signed to in partnership with Interscope Records.
Last year, Juice, born Jarad Higgins, expressed how this third album was something that he was feeling his way through during the initial recording process. He was coming from the heart and soul, less like the mind. Bibby feels he and the team got the right songs that Juice would've wanted on Legends Never Die, a celebration of love, tackling anxiety head on and a look into his state of mind.
Twenty-one tracks are featured including collaborations with Polo G, Trippie Redd, Kid Laroi and Halsey. "I feel like those people was like the artists that he was like really close with that was genuinely his friends," Bibby shares. "Like he would talk about all the time and kick it with all the time. And like, you know, Halsey always showed the maximum amount of love to Juice. Polo G, Kid Laroi, you know, that's all his close associates." Pete echoes Bibby's sentiments. "Really like family," he says. "Laroi lived with Juice for a while, you know. He's one of the reasons that even Laroi's here. Laroi's always been a big fan. Polo and Juice were as close as possible, always at the house together and both from Chicago. And then Halsey and Juice collaborated on that No. 1 record together, 'Without Me.'"
Production from Nick Mira, Ronny J, Rex Kudo, Take a Daytrip, DJ Scheme and Charlie Handsome, among others, rounds out the effort. Songs released prior to Legends Never Die, "Righteous," “Tell Me U Luv Me” with Trippie Redd, "Life's a Mess" featuring Halsey and "Come & Go" alongside Marshmello, are all on the final tracklist.
"Man of the Year," a fan-favorite track Juice teased on social media last year, was added last minute. The song, produced by Rex Kudo, Skrillex, Joe Reeves and Heavy Mellow with Juice in London in 2019, showcases Juice's affinity for punk rock. “Man of the year, still got problems/Lookin’ in the mirror, you look awful/Talkin’ to myself, do it too often/J-K, Juice Wrld, you’re so awesome,” he sings. On "Conversations," he compares himself to another legend: "Juice like Tupac Shakur, no Ice-T." "Blood on My Jeans" finds him addressing his love, getting the bag and confronting the opps. "Baby, I've been on the run/But I would never run from your love," he delivers over a guitar-driven beat.
According to Pete, "Blood on My Jeans" was Juice's favorite song out of the newer tracks the rapper recorded before his death from an accidental drug overdose on Dec. 8, 2019. "His favorite song on this album was probably 'Blood on My Jeans,'" Pete reveals. "Juice's music is personal, you know, it's not like made up or it's not as constructed as 'Oh, I'm gonna make a great song. This is gonna be a hit.' It's 'I'm gonna pour my emotions and feelings, what I'm feeling right now into a beat.' I think 'Blood on My Jeans' carries the most with me particularly because that was made towards the end. That's the one I kinda remember him going around playing the most."
Diving into the making of a posthumous album is both a heavy undertaking and huge responsibility. When putting the album together, Bibby kept in mind conversations he had with Juice prior to his passing. "I tried to put it together to kinda tell a story and like I said, the last talks that I had with Juice, I kinda like remember where his mind was at and I wanted to explain exactly what he was going through at the time with the music," he tells. "Somebody that was fighting addiction, anxiety, detachment. It's a lot of stuff that he was going through and I just wanted to make sure that the music told the story."
The 999 family, the name Juice Wrld dedicated to his loyal supporters, will certainly experience a wealth of emotions when listening to the album. A lasting message both Bibby and Pete want fans to sit with is to encourage them to reach out for help when facing inner struggles. "If you're dealing with anxiety, drug addiction, go get help," Bibby states. "No pills, no drugs, man."
Pete adds, "I would say, there's always a way out and the answer is not to self-medicate. If you're not going through something, and you just like this vibe, enjoy it and just keep pushing Juice's legacy forward and, you know, just keep saying his name. That way his legacy stays alive. If you are going through something, seek help, try to get in a different environment to, you know what I'm saying, make yourself better because at the end of the day, everybody matters… Just cause a celebrity is a celebrity doesn't mean like, if you're going through the same thing, you matter less. So, I think that they should seek help and speak to somebody. And, you know, just be aware that people care about them, and, just you know, take care of theirselves. That's the message."
The Grade A Productions team also urges fans to donate here to the Live Free 999 fund, created by Juice's mother, Carmela Wallace, to support young people in their battles with addiction, anxiety and depression.
In addition to new music featured on Legends Never Die, Juice's presence will be seen across the country in murals created by various artists in cities like Chicago, L.A., Ohio and Miami. Expect the music video for "Wishing Well" to come out soon and the documentary on the rapper's life to arrive either later this year or in 2021. Bibby promises that there will be more posthumous albums from Juice Wrld in the future. Good news considering Juice was known to record at least 10 songs per night in the studio. To the delight of Bibby fans who want to hear him return to rapping, a "pretty fire" collab he recorded with Juice could possibly see the light of day, too. And a wishlist collab Juice wanted with Frank Ocean is on Bibby's radar to try to make happen.
Watch Lil Bibby and Peter Jideonwo speak on the making of Juice Wrld's posthumous album, Legends Never Die, below.
Take a Look Back at Photos From Juice Wrld's Fall 2019 XXL Magazine Cover Shoot