“It’s kind of rough listening to the music,” Lil Bibby tells Complex about playing back Juice WRLD’s music following his passing. The rapper and Grade A Productions founder had worked closely with Juice WRLD since the late rapper joined the label in 2017, and he continues to be involved with the release of posthumous material.
Peter Jideonwo, Juice WRLD’s manager until his death, agrees. “It’s definitely mixed emotions when it comes to this,” he says. “Obviously, he’s not here anymore, so it’s not the same. It’s even awkward telling somebody, ‘Yeah, I’m Juice’s manager.’ But it also gives you motivation, like, ‘You can’t fuck this up.’”
It’s been two years since Juice WRLD, born Jarad Higgins, passed away from an accidental overdose at the age 21. Though the circumstances surrounding his death have been difficult for his family, friends, and fans to process at times, his story brought heightened awareness to substance abuse and mental health. On Dec. 9, the city of Chicago celebrated the first inaugural Juice WRLD Day in honor of the life and legacy of its native rapper.
Now, Lil Bibby, Peter and the rest of the team are hoping to reach an even more broader audience with the release of Juice WRLD’s second posthumous album, Fighting Demons. The project, which was put together within the last year, will deliver an important lesson and Bibby says he wants it “to tell a message.”
“The way he passed, from drugs stuff, I wanted to tell a message where it’s kind of teaching a lesson,” he says. “The kids shouldn’t do this type of stuff. Or, if you are going through any of the stuff that Juice was going through, like anxiety or depression, then you should probably find help.”
Helping others was always a part of Juice WRLD’s mission. Aside from leaving behind a large catalog of music (Bibby says there are 2,000 unreleased songs, including 20 with Young Thug alone), Juice left an important legacy. Jideonwo says he’s “going to be known as the therapist to the youth that never declared himself a therapist.”
Ahead of the official release of Juice WRLD’s Fighting Demons, Lil Bibby and Peter Jideonwo hopped on Zoom to discuss how the album came together, its message, favorite memories, and new potential projects. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.