Tracking the astronomical rise of Chicagoland rapper Juice Wrld | Bleader

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tracking the astronomical rise of Chicagoland rapper Juice Wrld

Posted By on 03.19.18 at 01:14 PM

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click to enlarge A still from Juice Wrld's "All Girls Are the Same" video
  • A still from Juice Wrld's "All Girls Are the Same" video
Soundcloud rap is shaping up to be the site of the latest music-biz gold rush. Lil Pump, Lil Skies, and Lil Xan already have major-label deals, and last week Billboard broke the news that Interscope had signed Chicagoland rapper Juice Wrld to a deal allegedly worth $3 million. That dollar amount comes as a lil shock, given that Juice remains fairly unknown and relatively green. He's been uploading music to Soundcloud for about three years, but as he told rap podcast No Jumper earlier this month, he's played only a couple shows—and it wasn't till a year ago that one of his tracks managed to accumulate 10,000 Soundcloud plays.

Since self-releasing the Juice Wrld 9 9 9 EP last summer, he's exceeded those numbers. Its tracks now average around 500,000 plays—respectable for an emerging artist, but hardly the typical prelude to a multimillion-dollar payday. The single "Lucid Dreams" is the only track from the EP to break the seven-figure barrier (though to be fair, it's done so decisively, with 2.5 million plays).

Chicago-based multimedia outlet Elevator had the first substantial coverage of Juice Wrld, publishing an interview with him in the fall. The rapper's big break came last month: he dropped a three-song EP called Nothings Different, which produced the runaway single "All Girls Are the Same." Atop a mopey synth melody and rice-paper-thin trap percussion, he glumly rap-sings about a breakup that's soured him on the entire girl-identifying half of the species. The title, which occurs in the back half of the hook, is hardly the only misogynist sentiment in the song, but Juice's subtly sweet vocals and debonair magnetism can sneak that stuff past you like a Trojan horse. "All Girls Are the Same" caught the ear of Elliot Montanez, editor in chief of local hip-hop blog Lyrical Lemonade, who championed the whole EP. By the end of February, Lyrical Lemonade founder and in-demand video director Cole Bennett had uploaded an official "All Girls Are the Same" clip to YouTube.

The track might've become an underground hit on its own, but with Bennett's help it went into overdrive. The day after the video dropped, Juice Wrld appeared on Fake Shore Drive for the first time; the following week Pitchfork named the single a "best new track." Within a couple days the clip had racked up half a million views, according to a reaction video by YouTuber ImDontai that's since reached almost 150,000 views itself.

Juice Wrld's official video for "All Girls Are the Same" now has more than 3.5 million views, and the track itself has topped 6.4 million Soundcloud plays—it sits at number 12 on the service's Top 50 chart. The other two tracks on Nothings Different have yet to break 200,000 plays, though—so far it seems like Interscope might have three million eggs in one basket.

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