The sudden news that rising rapper Juice WRLD had died after suffering a seizure on Sunday in Chicago came as a shock to his fans. The upstart artist had just turned 21 and seemed to have the entire world ahead of him. But to many of his fans who are familiar with his lyrics, chances are they may have suspected he worst when learning about his death.
After all, the Grammy-nominated rapper laced a good deal of his rhymes with tales of depression and subsequent drug use — especially prescription drugs– as a means to self-medicate. He made no secret of it at all, as shown by his collaborative album with Future — who also regularly touts his drug use — was named “Wrld on Drugs.”
TMZ, which reported Monday morning that Juice WRLD popped “several unknown pills” before he had his seizure, posted photos of the rapper’s opened luggage that showed what looked like dozens of gallon-sized storage bags filled with drugs. “The FBI confiscated the huge stash of weed from several suitcases that were on board the flight,” TMZ wrote before continuing: “One of Juice’s associates told authorities the 21-year-old rapper has a Percocet problem. Our law enforcement sources also say a bottle of codeine cough syrup was found on the plane.”
When it was announced that the man born Jarad Anthony Higgins had suffered a seizure before dying, it didn’t take long for people on social media to connect the presumptive dots before an official cause of death was released by a medical examiner.
Juice WRLD has been vocal about his codeine use in the past. He took to social media in July and made a vow to put an end to his addiction. “Ima leave that sh** alone 4 good watch me.. I’m done w it. I got work to do, a lot,” he wrote at the time.
Juice WRLD also revealed during an interview with Vulture last October that Future influenced him to experiment with lean, the popular drug-infused drink also known as purple drank and sizzurp with ingredients that can include codeine, cough syrup, soda, hard candy and alcohol. “That’s the first thing I told him. He just was like, ‘Wow.’ He kind of apologized,” Juice told the publication.
Looking back in recent years, there have been at least four rappers who have suffered seizures that were directly related to their drug use. Those cases were fortunately not deadly, but all of them combined should serve as a warning sign for those susceptible to having seizures, which drug use can cause.
Rapper Famous Dex suffered a seizure during a performance in Hollywood last month. Vibe reported that the rapper said it was due to epilepsy, but also added that he “has struggled with codeine addiction.”
Rapper Fredo Santana, who died from a seizure last year, had been “very public with his lean and prescription drug addiction, often writing about them in his music,” according to the Fader.
Dr. Michael Privitera, medical director of the UC Epilepsy Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, spoke to MTV News following Wayne’s seizure in 2013.
“Promethazine [one of the active ingredients in syrup] can trigger seizures in someone who is predisposed,” Privitera said about lean. “It has a non-specific effect on the brain and there’s a complex interaction of chemicals in the brain that some of these drugs can interrupt.”
It is unclear whether Juice WRLD was predisposed to seizures.