Stepping into Toronto rapper JUGGER’s mind is akin to a fun house. What lies behind every twist, turn, and door may be humor, horror, or a trap. At his core, the rap mastermind is a conductor, controlling his world with little effort.
After being discovered by powerhouse producer WondaGurl (Drake, Rihanna, Travis Scott) on the fateful night of Halloween in 2017, the two unlocked each other’s magic and unleashed it into the universe with the release of JUGGER’s debut single, “ARC’Y BOYZ.” While incarcerated, his 2019 debut project PSYCO served as a high-octane placeholder for the fury building inside him. Following the 2021 announcement of WondaGurl’s Wonderchild imprint coming to Red Bull Records, all eyes were on her first signee, JUGGER, to bring his vision to life.
JUGGER is a man of many faces, switching personas and perspectives at the drop of a hat like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A lifelong sci-fi and horror enthusiast, the art of storytelling and world-building is a core part of the rapper’s creative process. Discontent with seeing the world solely through his eyes, he is always on the search for who (or what) to embody next: “I’m an astronaut searching for the next species. Maybe I might be the next species. I'm religion and I'm the pastor. Sometimes I'm the addict and sometimes I'm the one serving addicts.” As succinctly put by JUGGER himself, “I’ve been through it all and I’m going to document it all.”
For JUGGER, the duality extends to his musical approach, separating his autobiographical material from his fantastical concepts. “I’m a real good author,” he explains. “I could take my life and hold it up in front of a fun mirror and stretch it out to make some cool concepts and music.” This manipulation of reality is what JUGGER finds himself getting lost in. Fascinated by the threads that hold society together, the emcee is invigorated by the challenge of seeing how much he can break before everything begins to crumble.
Over thumping bass, a windfall of piano keys, and synths, the Toronto emcee refuses to stay within the knee-jerk rage rap reaction to his music. His voice simmers into gravelly depths like a voicemail from a horror villain and skyrockets into thrilling highs with propulsive enthusiasm and urgency. “All of the written side, which is all in my mind, are the stories that chill up the spine through the enchantment of the voice,” JUGGER notes about his delivery that evades comparison and characterization. “It can be very erotic with the whisper and the sharpness, like the Scream voice. It can draw you in to make you hit that wrong corner. I can bring them into the deep waters. It's just the thrill of grabbing them and bringing them to a place they never would expect.”
JUGGER cites inspiration from the masterful blues of Robert Johnson to the grim tales of his successors Three 6 Mafia, to the storytelling of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and the worldbuilding of Michael Jackson. Tiptoeing through his funhouse leads you to stumble upon one of his many forms, all luring you in to linger a bit longer to piece together the ever-evolving mystery that makes him one of 2023’s ones to watch.
It’s JUGGER’s carnival. Do you have what it takes to make it out?