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How Juice WRLD Became an Emo-Rap Superstar in Just 6 Months

From signing a $3 million record deal to performing at the VMAs, this is a definitive timeline of his glo-up

John Shearer WireImage GettyImages Juiceworld mobilehero
John Shearer/WireImage/GettyImages

patrick baslar
By: Patrick Basler
September 4, 2018

Juice WRLD might sound sad as hell in his music, but he’s got a lot to be happy about.

 

This summer alone, his catchy song “Lucid Dreams” rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, he performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, and he earned spots on several Song of the Summer lists (a somewhat ironic feat, given the cold nature of “Lucid Dreams”).

 

The Chicago emo-rap wunderkind has skyrocketed to such stratospheric heights in the past few months, it’s easy to forget that less than six months ago, he was just one of thousands of new rappers in the depths of SoundCloud, struggling to make it out of the Sea of Lils.

 

And for a minute, even Juice was beginning to question whether he could make it.

 

“Before all this stuff took off—I kinda took a step back and was like … ‘What if this ain’t what I’m supposed to be doing?’” he told BigBoyTV.

 

To fully see and appreciate the grind that led to this impressive rap stardom, here’s a timeline of Juice WRLD’s journey toward success.

February 2015: Juice WRLD drops ‘Forever’

The earliest song on Juice WRLD’s SoundCloud is “Forever,” which he released during his sophomore year of high school. Like all his early music, it was recorded on a cell phone and posted for free online. It’s definitely not as fleshed out as his recent music, but it’s a remarkably strong artistic debut for a young teenager.

January 2016: JuiceTheKidd releases debut EP

After a year of dropping loosies and freestyles on SoundCloud, Juice put together his first project in early 2016. Juiced Up the EP features plenty of catchy, autotuned anthems but without the pop-punk trappings of his current sound. He also shouts out hometown hero Kanye West with a freestyle over Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy standout “Runaway.”

June 2017: 'JuiceWRLD 9 9 9' EP comes out

JuiceWRLD 9 9 9 was, at the time, the most full-fledged version of Juice WRLD’s signature emo-rap sound. It’s also the first appearance of “Lucid Dreams,” his biggest hit to date, which came out a full year before it eventually charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

In case you’ve been wondering how popular Juice WRLD was while releasing all of this music, here’s the answer: In October, he ecstatically thanked fans for 10,000 plays on his newest single “Autograph (On My Line).” Today, this very same track now has more than 4 million plays on SoundCloud.

December 2017: Juice WRLD drops ‘All Girls Are The Same’

Although “All Girls Are The Same” is the song that would eventually blow up, its wasn’t an immediate success. Upon its release on SoundCloud, it did 11,000 plays in two days—enough for Juice to be excited about it then, but it was nothing compared to what was coming.

February 2018: Cole Bennett directs ‘All Girls Are The Same’ music video

If you want to become a rap star in 2018, you’re gonna need a Cole Bennett music video. This video, which also serves as a collab between two of Chicago’s biggest rising talents, was arguably what catapulted Juice into the mainstream. It has more than 50 million views on YouTube and launched Juice into the upper echelon of Internet rap.

March 2018: Interscope signs Juice WRLD to $3 million deal

In a world where Lil Pump has a $8 million dollar deal, some brushed off Juice WRLD’s $3 million dollar contract as a result of the current rap gold rush. But given how much he’s blown up since signing his deal, it seems more like astute A&R work on Interscope’s part.

May 2018: Cole Bennett directs ‘Lucid Dreams’ music video

Bennett and Juice’s second collab was bigger than the first, racking up nearly 150 million streams on YouTube and setting up “Lucid Dreams” to be a Billboard smash. It’s Cole Bennett’s third most-watched music video ever—behind only videos from America’s favorite love-to-hate rappers: Lil Xan and Lil Pump.

May 2018: Juice WRLD drops debut album 'Goodbye & Good Riddance'

Juice WRLD’s debut album Goodbye & Good Riddance peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, at one point sitting behind just Drake, Post Malone and Kenny Chesney.

May 2018: ‘Lucid Dreams’ appears at No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100

Nearly a year after the song dropped, “Lucid Dreams” made its first appearance on the Hot 100. Soon after, the track would go gold.

July 2018: ‘Lucid Dreams’ peaks at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100

In early July, “Lucid Dreams” peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100. For a second, it looked as though it might reach No. 1, but it couldn’t knock Cardi B and Drake off the throne. The track also became his first platinum record—not too shabby for a song that sat on SoundCloud for five months before even hitting 100,000 plays.

August 2018: Juice WRLD performs at the MTV VMAs

Sure, his performance only lasted 90 seconds, but imagine going from dropping freestyles recorded on your phone to gracing the VMAs stage in just six months. Considering that so much of Juice WRLD’s success has taken place on the internet, the VMAs were a cool reminder that he’s an IRL star, too.