Late artists deserve peace and respect

By Ava Freeman, Features Editor

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From Lil Peep to XXXTentacion to Mac Miller, there have been numerous hip hop artists who have passed away within the last few years, devastating fans. The most recent rapper to pass is Jared Anthony Higgens, better known as Juice Wrld.

On Dec. 8, 2019, Higgens suffered a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport, which eventually led to his death at a nearby hospital. Although the exact cause for the seizure is still unknown, many people suspect that it could have been drug related, especially since drugs are a common topic in Higgens’ music. 

Following Higgens’ death, numerous heartbroken fans have formed conspiracies to feel like the artist is still alive. However, many of these speculations came across disrespectful and inconsiderate to loved ones. 

These theorists stated that Higgens has faked his death in order to form a new identity somewhere else without the pressure of fame, which stemmed from a tweet made by Higgens in 2017.

“My goal is to get overly famous, shine for a couple years…then fake my death,” Higgens said on Apr. 25, 2017. 

While some may believe that these conspiracies are a healthy way for fans to cope, the theories can be harmful to friends and family of Higgens who may be in denial. 

Losing a loved one is a difficult time for anyone, but losing someone while being in the spotlight of millions of people can make things even more difficult. Because of Higgings’ fame, his family must heal amongst constant reminders of his death on social media. Conspiracies are especially harmful to his family since they make a debate out of death and delegitimize grief.

Even though these posts are not created with the intention to cause harm, there are some people who make these irrational claims simply for attention or to be funny. It is as if they are taking the death of a human life as a joke. 

For example, on a popular social media app, Tiktok, a trend went around after Higgens’ death where users would videotape people who looked like the rapper in common places, claiming that they had found him alive. Meanwhile, in the background of these videos upbeat music would be playing, which is ultimately disrespectful to those who are legitimately grieving the loss of Higgens.

In addition to this trend, users also poked fun at how Higgens died of a seizure by connecting how he died to some of his song lyrics in “Lucid Dreams.” With the song playing in the background, users acted out having a seizure by shaking and spitting water out of their mouths.

While some may view this video trend as being comical, it is an extremely offensive way to portray the connection to Higgens’ song.

This is not the first time that fans have conspirasized about a rapper’s death. Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, better known as XXXTentacion, tragically died on Jun. 18, 2018 as a result of a gunshot wound. Similarly to Higgens, fans of Onfroy made speculations that the artist may have faked his own death. 

Shortly after his passing, a widely shared post on Twitter stated that Onfroy’s death was a publicity stunt to promote his newest single, “No Pulse.”  However, it was later revealed that there was no actual evidence proving that this would be the name of the song.

This goes to show that people are willing to make illogical claims on social media in order to get attention and be controversial. 

Conspiracy theories can be interesting to research but conspiracizing death takes it too far, especially when viral threads become “trends” on various social media apps. Hopefully, the family and friends of both Higgens and Onfroy were able to move past some of these hurtful posts and keep the memories alive of their loved ones in a healthy way.