Rapper Juice Mazelee Explores His Past and Future on “TRUTH”

On his new track “TRUTH” Juice Mazelee brings Chicago-centric storytelling to the forefront with remarkable tact. His lyrics explore the recklessness of youth and its consequences, positioning himself as both past participant and keen observer. He reminisces about the thrill of seeing the seal on a pint of lean (codeine with promethazine) cracked for the first time, but also laments the effects of addiction he has witnessed first-hand (“I watched addiction kill a dream, untold stories of fiends”). This dichotomy of a regretful past and an aspirational future is the crux of the track, as Juice explores both the “street life” that racism and poverty has pushed many Black Chicagoans into, and the vision of a better future for not only himself, but his entire community. These ideas are tightly packed into the chorus of the track; “Running with the same little n****s used to hustle and shoot, now I make noise and count these faces like the Blue Man Group.” Juice’s anecdotes of his own experiences allow him to speak on these issues from a perspective of understanding rather than condescension, coming off not as a scold but a seeker of objective truth.

A personal favorite line of mine is one that puts the onus of this dichotomy on the listener, making them decide whether they interpret Juice as peaceful or violent; “I’m from Chicago where the shorties got to follow a lead, and I’ll lead ‘em straight to heaven if they following me.” If the listener interprets Juice as peaceful, he is attempting to be a symbolic leader delivering the youth to a better world. However, if the listener interprets Juice as violent, the line could be seen as a threat; that if you follow him in the literal sense he will kill you or “lead you to heaven.” Juice’s meticulous word choice suggests the former, as he is “leading” them to heaven rather than “sending” them there, but it’s these small details that make this track so thought-provoking.

Another merit of this song is its autobiographical nature, as Juice describes his rise in the industry from 2015 to now, and confidently boasts about the success that he’s sure is coming to him (“Want a feature for the low you should’ve got it this year, cause I could only see it rising while I’m standing right here"). This confidence is well-earned, as his dense and deeply personal bars fill the airy, open production with energy. The technicality of his rapping is present in spades, and the beat allows plenty of room for Juice to show his skills off. Any fan of Chicago hip-hop, especially the soulful, jazz-inspired work of artists like Saba and Noname, would be very well off to give Juice Mazelee a listen as he speaks his TRUTH.

You can listen to “TRUTH” on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube.

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Aviv Hart