‘WRLD ON DRUGS’: good but not great
Danny Liggio | Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Juice WRLD came out of the dirt this summer with his song “Lucid Dreams.” He’s 19 and has risen from SoundCloud obscurity to a major player in hip-hop only in the past year. He rarely writes his music, usually freestyling in the studio to produce songs. On YouTube, there are two hour-long freestyles, which attest to his limitless flow. He claims to have over 200 songs ready to be released in the tank.
So, it’s fitting that Juice WRLD has partnered with Future, one of the most prolific hip-hop artists in recent memory, for the “WRLD ON DRUGS” mixtape. The mixtape is characteristic of both Future and Juice, focusing heavily on drug use, mental illness and pain-ridden, difficult pasts.
Although the themes are generally somber, neither Future not Juice WRLD give into the temptation to wallow in their condition; rather, they only convey their vices in a matter-of-fact way. Future gives a deadpan rendition of his lifestyle on “Realer n Realer:” “having a thrill off these pills, I could OD any day.” In the same song, Juice WRLD explain some of why he and Future rely on these drugs: “I lost my bro to a pistol. I lost my bro to the system.”
Juice WRLD shines in his hooks, which, when right, have a smooth listenability. In “Fine China,” the album’s single, Juice crafts a chorus similar to those which made “Lucid Dreams” and “All Girls are the Same,” another of his popular singles, so good. His chorus on “Jet Lag” is of a similar quality, although it is closer to rapping than his usual singing style.
Despite shining in some spots, Juice WRLD’s rapping ability lags far behind his singing throughout “WRLD ON DRUGS.” On “7 AM Freestyle,” Juice’s rapping is choppy and unpleasant. His bragging comes off as trite and uninteresting: “They go brazy / Pull up in that new thing.”
In contrast, Future can rap without issue. On “Red Bentley,” he spits over a thumping beat, “They’re checkin’ my profile, no pic, I’m still fresher.” Future flirts with the experimental, as he is apt to do, on “Oxy by Future.” In a strained, almost desperate scratch of a voice, he lays out a chorus that is little more that “Oxy-Oxy, Oxycontin” repeated over and over: the only thing on his mind.
At times, “WRLD ON DRUGS” feels little more than a throwaway tape; songs like “No Issue,” “Astronauts” and “Afterlife” are background music. The beats are sleepy, and the lyrics are delivered with a boring lack of enthusiasm. These low points are forgettable and will be forgotten.
Even where the duo performs their best, like on “Jet Lag” and “Fine China,” to deftly-crafted beats with vibrant enthusiasm, they fail to create anything exceptional. Both Future and Juice WRLD have definite style and talent, but they never reach their full potential on “WRLD ON DRUGS.” The mixtape will succumb to obscurity in time. Future and Juice WRLD, though, have no fear of being lost in the fog as artists. While “WRLD ON DRUGS” was nothing quite special, its component artists are worth much more apart than forced haphazardly into this spur-of-the-moment collaboration.
Artist: Future and Juice WRLD
Album: “WRLD on Drugs”
Label: UMG Recordings, Inc., Sony Music, Interscope Records, Grade A, Freebandz and Epic Records
Favorite Track: Jet Lag
If You Like: Trippie Redd, Playboi Carti, Migos