Juice Wrld Credit: Courtesy the Artist

My girlfriend has a Spotify playlist called “Emotional Bangers,” and it’s made up entirely of too-earnest, heart-on-the-sleeve hip-hop jams. Though it leans pretty heavily on Drake and the Weeknd, Chicago native Juice Wrld is a major presence as well. To hear him tell it, Juice Wrld has a lot of feelings; Juice Wrld also has lots of weed and pills. Though he’s only 20, he’s spent the past couple years redefining what’s possible in chart-busting hip-hop, evolving past not only its traditional hard-hitting beats and acrobatic wordplay but also the woozy trap of recent years. On his two albums, the astonishingly good 2018 debut Goodbye & Good Riddance and its slightly less-solid follow-up, March’s Death Race for Love, he sings some of the catchiest, deepest melodies ever put to tape over airy, melancholy backing tracks that border on minor-key pop. His lyrics address depression, addiction, and isolation, and their realness is enough to make you uncomfortable. At the same time, you could catch a contact high from his glazed-eyed, mumbling delivery. If his songs were a little less preoccupied with illicit substances, Juice could be the world’s next biggest pop star—but drugged-up and sad is what we get, and it’s perfect.   v