By Geoffrey Rowlands
Juice Wrld’s music is difficult to categorise. The young man born as Jared Higgins confuses critics with his brand of rap and singing which has been described as “emo-leaning” and “genre-bending.”
But there is no confusion about the success of his songs. Juice’s track, Lucid Dreams, reached number three on Billboard’s Hot 100 and has become a massive international hit. His debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, is only marginally less successful having so far peaked at number six on the Billboard 200.
Still just 19 years old, Juice’s musical background was not in rap.
“My parents divorced when I was three and I was raised by my mother. She is a very religious person who loves gospel music. She stopped me listening to rap. I’d hear some rap thanks to my cousins but not much. I was primarily into pop and rock which my mother considered as more acceptable.”
His musical ability manifested itself at an early age.
“I started out learning piano. But I also wanted to try other instruments so I moved on firstly to guitar and then to drums.”
Despite the influence of his mother, the call of rap was too strong for Juice to resist. He began freestyling and writing material during his freshman year in high school.
“My friends said I was good and could become a real rapper so I started taking things really seriously when I was about 16 in my sophomore year at high school. I put my first track on SoundCloud in 2015. It was called Forever and I credited myself as JuicetheKidd.
“I wasn’t sure about the name. I used to have a Juice haircut, like Tupac Shakur in the movie, Juice. I knew I wanted Juice in my name but not just Juice. I’m not even sure where Wrld came from. I remember thinking dropping the o from World would make my name more noticeable.”
Juice’s biggest musical inspiration was fellow Chicago rapper Chief Keef.
“He was, and still is, my favourite rapper. But I was also listening to all the up and coming Chicago artistes. I moved to California last year but Chicago is in my blood. I was born there and lived all my life in the Chicago suburbs so I’m always going to regard Chicago as my town.”
Juice’s varied musical upbringing still influences his work.
“I’m not someone who only listens to one type of music. My work is inspired by other genres, not just rap. I feel like I’m an artiste who can tap into a lot of different sounds.”
Last year saw Juice hook up with Nick Mira. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Nick co-owns Internet Money Records and has produced tracks for numerous artistes such as Trippie Redd, Retro Spectro and the late XXXTentacion.
Nick and Juice worked together on a pair of EPs, Nothing’s Different and 9 9 9. The latter featured Lucid Dreams. But as much as Juice was increasing his fan following, there was one important person who did not approve of his work.
“My mother can’t get into my music. She really flipped when she heard 9 9 9. She actually thought it was demonic but I think it’s the exact opposite of that.
“I started out writing songs just to create material. They didn’t really mean anything. But I began writing about real-life experiences. I was going through some hard times so I figured why not make songs from my experiences.
“That’s how Lucid Dreams was written. Nick sampled music from Sting’s track, Shape of My Heart. It sounded great so I knew I had to come up with a special lyric. The song is bittersweet about high school heartbreak and the pain I suffered because of the feelings I had for the girl.”
“With Lucid Dreams and other EP tracks attracting thousands of SoundCloud hits, it made obvious sense for the songs to be included on Goodbye & Good Riddance.
“The major labels came calling when my songs began blowing up online. I wanted to put my best work on the album. Every track has meaning. I’m trying to make music which might help people get through their situations by telling them about some of my own. It’s all genuine, I think people really appreciate that.”
David Baddiel/Frank Skinner/The Lightning Seeds
Three Lions has established yet another UK singles chart record.
Last week saw David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and Lightning Seeds star Ian Broudie top the chart for the fourth time with their England football anthem. Although other songs had previously taken pole position on four separate occasions, Three Lions was the first to do so with the same artiste line-up.
This was a record of which David, Frank and Ian could certainly be proud. Their new record is quite the opposite. With England losing in the semi-final and the World Cup over, there was no continuing momentum for the song. So it was that Three Lions now holds the unenviable record of the biggest fall from number one in UK chart history by plummeting to number 97.
Only four other chart-toppers have even fallen out of the following week top ten. The worst of these was previous record holder the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir who hit number one with A Bridge Over You on the 2015 Christmas week chart. The song then subsided to number 29.
This is nothing compared to the descent of Three Lions. The 96-place drop is so spectacular that it has set a mark which is unlikely to ever be broken.
A wide range of his material has been released since the death of David Bowie in January, 2016. But Bowie fans will soon have the opportunity to bid for a unique piece of David’s musical history.
Back in 1963, the 16-year-old David Jones played saxophone in a band called The Konrads. In the hope of impressing bosses at Decca Records, they recorded a demo tape featuring two guitar instrumentals and an original song, I Never Dreamed.
Although singing duties were shared among the band members, it was decided that David was the best person to give the right interpretation of the song. So it is that this recording is the first to feature David performing lead vocals.
The Konrads were rejected by Decca and the tape returned to drummer David Hadfield. Bowie left the band a few months later to join The King Bees and the demo recording was forgotten.
It was recently rediscovered in an old bread basket when David Hadfield was clearing out the loft in his house. The tape will now be offered for sale in September at Omega Auctions in Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside. It forms part of a sale which also includes a host of other memorabilia from Bowie’s early career.
Interested parties should keep an eye on the Omega Auctions website to determine when the full auction catalogue will be available.
It was 2013 when singer and actress Cher issued her 25th solo album, Closer To The Truth. But her role in the newly released film musical, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, has inspired the 72-year-old superstar to record a new album containing nothing but covers of ABBA songs.
Cher performs ABBA’s classic track, Fernando, in the film. Actor Andy Garcia, who plays hotel manager Fernando Cienfuegos, also provides additional vocals. An audio posting of the song can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQd5wfy-gCc
“After doing Fernando, I thought it would be fun to make an entire album of ABBA songs,” Cher remarked. “The film songs obviously had to be true to the original ABBA recordings but I was free to put my own interpretation on the songs for my album.”
No official release date has been announced but Cher’s ABBA album will probably be available in September.
The Kingdom Choir
Any Royal Wedding watchers who enjoyed The Kingdom Choir’s performance at the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be pleased to hear they have signed a record deal with Sony Music.
The Kingdom Choir’s rendition of Ben E. King’s classic song, Stand By Me, was lavishly praised as one of the Royal Wedding musical highlights. Digital downloads from the wedding soundtrack even propelled the song into the UK singles chart.
It will feature on The Kingdom Choir’s debut album, likely to be titled Stand By Me, which is scheduled for release on November 2. Led by conductor Karen Gibson, Britain’s Godmother of Gospel expressed her delight at the recording contract.
“The honour of being invited to sing at the Royal Wedding and then the thrill of being signed to Sony. I can’t say it’s all a dream come true because it’s an undreamt dream, one that you wouldn’t even consider because you never thought it could happen. We’re very grateful and very excited about what is to come.”
The Kingdom Choir’s Royal Wedding performance can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyFlLjdNqk8
Ben E King’s original 1961 recording is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwZNL7QVJjE
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