Chicago rapper Juice Wrld dead at 21 after suffering cardiac arrest at private hangar at Midway Airport, officials say

Juice WRLD performed during McDonald's Beat Of My City Chicago on October 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The young rapper from the Chicago area died Sunday morning after suffering cardiac arrest at a private hangar at Midway Airport. (Jeff Schear/Getty Images for McDonald's/TNS)
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By Chicago Tribune staff Chicago Tribune (TNS)

CHICAGO — Juice Wrld, a young rapper from the Chicago area who recently signed with a major label, died Sunday morning after suffering cardiac arrest at a private hangar at Midway Airport, authorities said.

Paramedics were called to the hangar operated by Atlantis Air shortly after 2 a.m., according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. The 21-year-old rapper, whose real name was Jarad Higgins, apparently had arrived at Midway on a private jet.

Higgins was taken to Christ Medical Center and pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Langford said he did not know what caused Higgins to go into cardiac arrest. Police said they were conducting a death investigation. An autopsy will be performed later today or Monday.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement that “there were no signs of foul play and all individuals aboard the aircraft are cooperating with CPD and have given all of their information. We are awaiting the Cook County medical examiner on the cause and manner of death.”

Higgins grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School. In March of last year, he signed a reported $3 million deal with Interscope after his EP “Juice Wrld 999” racked up millions of streams on Soundcloud. He released his second album, “Death Race for Love,” this past spring and it hit No. 1 on the album chart. He toured Europe with Nicki Minaj on a co-headlining bill this year.

In an interview with the Tribune last year, Higgins said “it hasn’t really caught up to me yet. I haven’t really felt like ‘Oh my God, what just happened?’ But I think it’s a good thing because when people get caught up, they can get lost — lost in the moment. That can ruin somebody.”

Blending elements of meandering, mumble-rap singing against drill-lite percussion and pop-punk melodies, Higgins bridged the gap between urban and suburban youth experiences.

His debut LP “Goodbye & Good Riddance” hit No. 7 on Billboard’s “Top 200” four weeks after its release. Higgins was also named Apple Music’s newest “Up Next” artist.

Higgins said he started sharing his music in 2015 after gaining support on his high school’s radio show.

“My mom didn’t want me to listen to that music,” he said. “I was a little kid, those lyrics aren’t made for kids’ ears. She’s more on the conservative side, but I completely agree with her. Future is one of my favorite artists and I was listening to him in sixth/seventh grade wanting to drink lean, like that’s crazy. Words have a lot of power. I was still developing as a person — mentally, physically, so those years were very crucial for who I am right now and that’s completely understandable.

“I talk about a lot of issues I go through and some of my fans go through, and try to create a fellowship where people can relate to each other,” he added. “I’m not worried about anyone getting the wrong idea or stereotyping what I’m doing. My music is straightforward because I want to give people me and let them know they’re not alone in going through the things that they go through.”

Higgins said he was focused on what he saw as his longevity as an artist.

“Life is a journey,” he said. “There’s no thought process really, it’s just life. (The album) is a couple pages of that. The ball just naturally keeps rolling. Two of my biggest songs are about relationship issues, that’s kind of cool. But there’s a whole other side of me that people haven’t seen yet and I get to show them.”

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