Every teenager’s favorite emo artist is back with 22 tracks, varying in range from awful to great, but not varying in emo
Twenty-two tracks is never a good sign going into a project. In 2018 alone, albums with 20+ songs (Scorpion, Culture II, and SR3MM among others) proved to be disappointing through and through. The long runtime is often a sign of an artist who is trying to put out as much music as possible and trying to capitalize in streaming numbers. Juice WRLD’s latest project, Death Race for Love, is not an exception to that rule.
Death Race starts off with multiple half-baked tracks, and struggles to find its footing from there. The first good song on the project comes four tracks in, and it’s an interlude… Without Juice WRLD on it. As Brent Faiyaz sings ‘I’m finding my way’ on the track, Juice WRLD is still struggling to find his own way on the project. After two more tracks of the Chicago rapper stumbling (or, mumbling) through emo, drugs-induced trips, he finally gains some momentum in track seven.
The stretch of Big, Robbery, and Flaws and Sins shows what Juice can provide when he actually sits down and focuses on a song. The trio starts with an absolute banger in Big– providing some of the best bars over the hardest instrumental of the entire album. Robbery keeps the run going with the quintessential Juice WRLD track; it’s the perfect mix of Juice’s good writing, catchy melodies, and emo nature without being overtaken by any of the three. Flaws and Sins caps off the three-track run with the most memorable track of the project. Over a beat that encapsulates 80’s rock, acoustic love songs, and heavy-hitting trap drums all-in-one, Juice’s writing shines. It’s one of the rare outings on Death Race where the writing is truly heartfelt – not just an emo track that’s trying to be emo ‘because, emo.’
As Death Race reaches double digits on the song count, Juice WRLD completely abandons his own style and noticeably tries to be someone else on each track. Feeling is a blatant attempt at Juice trying too hard to make a hit, Syphilis is Juice trying to slide into X’s and Ski Mask’s lane, ‘on my gun, it’s a dick, I’m gon’ fuck your face with it, YUH!!’ um… Please, don’t.
Desire and Out My Way become more proof that Juice WRLD is trying to sound like his contemporaries. Desire might as well be a Trippie Redd song; the melodies, vocals, and writing are the exact thing I’ve come to expect from Trippie. Right after, Juice transforms from emo to a hard, Chicago street rapper. He equips his raspiest vocals and channels his inner G-Herbo on an off-beat anthem over a drill/trap inspired beat on Out My Way (you can literally sing Herbo’s “Huh” in entirety over the song).
Laced between the songs that might as well be from other artists, a gem in the tracklisting that is Ring Ring is completely ruined by Clever’s short but awful feature. The vocoder utilized on the hook is something new for Juice, and shows the first sign of growth in his sound without another artist’s influence… then Clever comes in. ‘I’mmm hiiiighh, on drugs!!’ is an instant contender for worst line of 2019, and Clever’s feature makes NAV’s Yosemite verse look like a work of art.
ON GOD (IN ALL CAPS!) with Young Thug breathes some late life into the album, but is also disappointing and uncreative for a collaboration of two of the more interesting artists in rap right now. The next four tracks that lead up to the outro are passable, but nothing worth adding to a playlist.
The outro itself, Make Believe, is one of the better tracks on the album, but feels under-developed, almost like an interlude. It might be the perfect outro for the album, however, as it embodies exactly what Death Race is: a project that shows hints of growth, but ultimately tries too hard and falls incredibly flat.
FINAL RATING (out of 100):