The hip-hop charts were suddenly dominated in mid-July by departed Chicago rapper Juice WRLD (Jarad Higgins) and newcomer Roddy Ricch (Rodrick Moore). The July release of the posthumous Juice WRLD album Legends Never Die (Interscope) explained Higgins’ popularity, but Roddy Ricch’s dominance was a slow burn, beginning with the January release of Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial (Atlantic). As of July 25, three tracks from that album were charting, as well as “Rockstar,” a single Ricch recorded with DaBaby.
Both Juice WRLD and Roddy Ricch take a standard delivery and incorporate unusual bass or violin passages that bring them closer to the weirder side of Donald Glover (check out Ricch’s “The Box” and its eerie wail, or the synth on Juice WRLD’s “Conversations”).
Even if Juice WRLD’s layered arrangements give it the greater majesty, Ricch’s songs gain power with the repeated play they’ve gotten this summer. With even newer artists entering the charts, like Jack Harlow with “Whats Poppin” or Lil Mosey with “Blueberry Faygo,” don’t count on mega-stars like Drake or Future to carry hip-hop. Its future belongs to the newer artists.