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The first season of HBO Max’s anthology series Music Box ends with Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss. The documentary premieres alongside Fight demons, the late rapper’s posthumous second album, and the announcement that HBO has renewed Music Box for a second season. In the abyss, directed by Tommy Oliver (Black love, 1982) is drawn from two years of footage filmed during Juice Wrld’s rise to world fame, and also features interviews with family, friends and music industry peers.

The essential: When Juice Wrld died of a drug overdose in December 2019, the 21-year-old rapper, singer and songwriter had already reached the stratosphere of his career. The first singles in 2017, and in particular her May 2018 track “Lucid Dreams”, recorded billions of streams and prime placements on the Billboard Hot 100. Her debut album quickly went platinum. And lyrics that frequently explored depression, anxiety, grief, and exclusion resonated with a young fan base tuned in to emo themes as well as the shifting and permutating landscape of a contemporary hip-hop sound born. and nurtured in the online space. But by the time he regularly put up streaming numbers that rivaled Drake and Taylor Swift, Juice Wrld was also well and truly under the sway of his drugs of choice, percocet and ounce after ounce of liquid codeine. Lean is a constant presence in In the abyss, just like the pills; the documentary is largely comprised of footage shot during the last two years of Juice’s life, as he and those around him fully indulged in the hedonism that comes with being famous. Corn Abyss also offers unlimited access to a relentless creative mind. Throughout, Juice Wrld seems to express himself almost exclusively in freestyle, the intricate rhymes falling from his mouth like the perpetual stream of commentary that populates the bottom corner of a TikTok.

In the abyss includes interviews with world leaders in Juice, girlfriend Ally Lotti, manager Lil Bibby and producer Benny Blanco to friends and collaborators Polo G, G Herbo, The Kid Laroi and music video director Cole Bennett . All were led by Abyss director Tommy Oliver after Juice’s death, and they frame the real bulk of the doc, where the videographer’s cameras dutifully follow Juice and her entourage through bloated and often ecstatic live performances, late-night freestyle sessions in the studio. recording, long stretches of unstructured jokes and songs, and more confessional moments of self-examination that are as revealing as they are populated with droppings of percocet and sips of lean. Abyss Also eschews alien storytelling, which further immerses the viewer in the island world of Juice.

To one person, those interviewed in In the abyss describe Juice Wrld as a singular presence, a generational talent and above all an individual with a big heart. “Whether he knew it or not, Juice was a therapist for millions of children,” Blanco says. But at the end of the day, there’s also a sort of giddy acceptance that his death from a toxic cocktail of codeine and oxycodone was entirely preventable, if only they had controlled his consumption a bit more.

Photo: HBO Max

What movies will this remind you of? In A man named Scott, the recent doc on his life and appearance, rapper, singer and songwriter Kid Cudi talks about his own struggles with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Cudi’s friends and colleagues interviewed also echo what so many of the Juice team are saying – that they didn’t realize how deep the depression was or how powerful the anxiety was. The difference, of course, is that Cudi survived while Juice didn’t, and neither did Lil Peep, the emo rapper who died of a drug overdose in 2017 and is the subject of the Netflix documentary. Everyone is everything.

Performances to watch: Juice Wrld himself is a captivating presence here, a combustible blend of sensibility, casual charm, thoughtfulness, performative brilliance, and surprising rap scholarship.

Memorable dialogue: “I heard, like… I swear it was his demons that left him,” his girlfriend Ally Lotti said of the chaotic times just before his death as authorities approached the Gulfstream of Juice Wrld on the tarmac at Midway Airport. “He screamed my name, and he seized up. “

Gender and skin: Nothing.

Our opinion : Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss starts right inside the maelstrom, with a lingering close-up on the rapper as he freestyle. This takes a few minutes, but it can easily take hours. Juice’s rhymes intertwine in overlapping words and phrases, and exuberant returns to childhood memories mingle with mercurial references to the chemical handling of anxiety and deadly thoughts. For Juice, it’s just another night. (In Abyss, it’s often night – the rapper and his team are definitely nocturnal.) But to the viewer, this is a singular example of his haunting talent, and how he often appeared both fully formed and spontaneous. This is the theme of the interviews in Abyss, too, how the rapper’s talent was so abundant that it couldn’t even be contained in something as rote as a song. But while he still craved more space to work, Juice also craved more pills and weight loss. This goes to the point in Abyss that Juice is so far inside his world, he doesn’t know where the way is. In an instant, he admits that making better choices in his life could be key to moving forward. In the next one, a friend describes Juice as having drunk a pint of liquid codeine on his own.

While the interviews in In the abyss offer a glimpse into the talent and drive of an artist at work, it’s in the immersive midsection of the doc that we really see it. Juice’s world was the environment for modern performance and celebrity, and the camera moves with it through the interconnected chambers of that existence. The stage and its strobes and smoke give way to a movable wall, revealing a ready idle tour bus, and in turn its exclusive inner sanctum, transporting the rapper and his suite into the enveloping world of a studio of registration or the private space of his spacious modernist home. And since he rarely does anything that is not directly related to his career or existence as a wealthy recording artist, these activities become the only tangible elements in Juice’s life. Daily rules do not apply, nor do normal fuel. Instead, it’s herb pens, and 20 percs a day, and a lean mug perpetually on hand. If the abyss is, as G Herbo describes it, the place where depression lives, a place populated with sadness and fear of always falling, it is also an apt description of the blinkered personal universe that Juice Wrld has. inhabited in its last years of life.

Our call: Stream it. The first season of the Music Box documentary series ends with what could be its most tragic entry. Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss is a portrayal of the duration of a young artist as a dazzling hip-hop presence, his descent into drug addiction and the consequences of his tragic end.

look Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss on HBO Max

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