Chicago rapper Juice WRLD’s ascent happened so quickly that in the same year he released his 2018 debut Goodbye & Good Riddance, he was able to scratch an item off his career bucket list: creating WRLD on Drugs, a collaborative project with Future. Just five months after that, anxious to reacquaint the listening public with his own voice, Juice WRLD has delivered Death Race for Love—22 tracks, with only Brent Faiyaz, Clever, and Young Thug as guests. The significance of extra, unadulterated Juice WLRD is not lost on the MC, who raps on the project’s opener, “Empty”: “I was put here to lead the lost souls.”
As operating practice, Juice WRLD trades in the dramatic—singing or rapping about love as the force powering his will to live, and also the one responsible for his inevitable undoing. He reaches his poetic peak on “Won’t Let Go,” crooning, “You can bury me with her/And if she die before me, kill me/And carry me with her.” Conversely, the love interest of “Make Believe” meets a grim fate, with Juice WRLD admitting, “I figure she was gonna break my heart regardless/So I took her out and dumped her in the garbage.”
Elsewhere on the album are dramatically drawn-out beat changes (“10 Feet”), multiple flows within single songs (“The Bees Knees”), studied introspection (“Flaws and Sins”), and even a touch of flowery dancehall (“Hear Me Calling”). The cover of Death Race for Love features an illustrated version of Juice WRLD hovering over a demolition derby of sorts, likening the album to a video game. And not unlike a popular gaming title, there’s enough to explore within Death Race to keep all who engage it entertained for untold hours.