The year 2006 was owned by Three 6 Mafia, when the Memphis, TN group reinvented the rap wheel by winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Hard Out Here For a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow). The trio already had a healthy collection of hits under their belts, as tracks like “Sippin On Some Sizzurp,” “Stay Fly,” “Poppin’ My Collar,” and “Slob On My Nob” were carefully crafted proverbial club bangers. 2000’s When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 and 2005’s Most Known Unknown were Certified Platinum, adding yet another notch in Three 6 Mafia’s successful belt. But what happens after that? Sure, the mainstream radar is piqued, but how do you keep the world’s attention? For front man producer/rapper Juicy J, it was taking things back to square one. J spent the years that followed creating a street team, shooting videos, and releasing mixtapes (along with the album Last 2 Walk) all in the name of the collective Three 6 buzz. What he found though was a burgeoning solo career that transformed him from one part of a colossal whole to a standalone superstar. As Juicy J delivers his debut solo album [Stay Trippy], he takes his knowledge of the game and of music to next level trippiness.
“I'm a producer, I never considered myself a rapper,” admits Juicy J born Jordan Michael Houston. “So I always kept my ear to the street and always tried to find out what was the next big thing, what was hot.” When the North Memphis native released his debut solo mixtape project, 2009’s Chronicles Of the Juice Man, he kept the talent localized, with features including former Three 6 Mafia member Crunchy Black and J’s older brother Project Pat. The tape was Certified Gold, but that wasn’t enough for the Juice Man. He continued to release mixtapes year after year, dropping a whopping three mixtapes in 2011 (including the critically acclaimed Blue Dream & Lean). Consistently checking for new talent, J would meet newer Rap acts on Twitter and forge relationships. It was there that Juicy J met Wiz Khalifa and the result of that friendship was a coveted spot in Wiz’s Taylor Gang (and 1/3 owner of Taylor Gang Records). While Wiz built a solid foundation out of his Taylor Gang army, Juicy J is building one of his own. Welcome to the “Trippy Movement.”
The Trippy Movement originated out of Juicy J’s decision to keep his music real to himself. “Everything changed once we got the Academy Award. A lot of money kicked in,” J recalls. “[Three 6 Mafia] went through a transition where the label was trying to tell us how to make the music, and they wanted the music to go in this kind of a way, in a Pop way and all this extra stuff. You go through those transitions when you've been in the game a long time. You just grow.” For Juicy J, though, the choice was to swim the mainstream to the tune of the music he wanted to make. As for the origin of the word trippy? “A lot of people connect the Trippy Movement with drugs, but it can be however you feel,” he says. “I mean, I always say being trippy, you do what you want when you want. So it's whatever you feel, what makes you happy. Kind of like being rebellious. It's being like, ‘F**k everything else, I'm going to just do me!’” His self-funded movement proved to be fruitful in more ways than one. From selling “We Trippy Mane” t-shirts on his website (thejuicyj.com) to cups and other merchandise, Juicy J found an extra entrepreneurial income he never planned on making.
As he maintains that Stay Trippy mantra, Juicy J embarks on his debut solo project, aptly titled Stay Trippy (Sony/Columbia). “It's pretty much like my last mixtape, Blue Dream & Lean. Me being ratchet,” Juicy J promises. The project is more focused, as Juicy J is in total control, and being given what he likes to consider the freedom to do whatever he wants creatively. His forward thinking production-cap remains on as J crafts a project that still appeals to Three 6 Mafia members, but speaks to Hip-Hop’s next generation as well. The flagship single “Bandz A Maker Her Dance” has already made its rounds recently gaining Platinum certification, originating on Juicy J’s Twitter page. “I put ‘Bandz A Make Her Dance’ out myself on Twitter and it popped on the Billboard charts and it was climbing the Billboard charts,” he explains. Other bangers include the contagious “Bounce It,” where Juicy is flanked by Trey Songz and Wale, as they ride over the ricocheting beat. The Weeknd checks in on the woozy “One Of Those Nights,” along with a cameo from the late Pimp C on the Traptastic “Smokin’ Rollin.”
Justin Timberlake appears on the splashy “The Woods,” as he provides an intoxicating hook while Juicy woos a new object of his affection. “Justin's from Memphis; I've been knowing him for a while,” he says of his relation to Timberlake. The track was produced by Timbaland. “When I was in the studio with Timbaland, he played the track to me with the vocals and the instrumental,” Juicy recalls. “He was like, ‘Yo, man. What do you think about this?’ I was like, ‘That's dope!’ He was like, ‘You can use it for your album.’ I was like, ‘Wow! Thanks!’ So, Timbaland kind of surprised me with that. That was like a Christmas present. I didn't even expect to get that song, but it's one of my favorite songs on the album.” There is a perfect balance of veteran collaborations and some new school flavor, as A$AP Rocky brings his Harlem flair to “Scholarship” while Juicy J’s big brother Project Pat arrives on the Southern fried “No Heart No Love.” It’s a well-rounded party. “I'm doing everything that I want to do. This is me,” Juicy J explains. “This is Juicy J individually as a person. This is me, all me. So that's what I'm giving. I'm giving the fans me, this is me personally.”
Juicy J’s two-decade run in Hip-Hop has brought him to this very moment. While bridging the gap between old and new fans under one trippy umbrella, Juicy J has cracked a code most veteran rappers struggle to decipher. Making uncompromised music that anyone can relate to is this producer/rapper/businessman’s forte. It might be hard out here for a pimp, but Juicy J makes it look easy. Running Sony Music is part of his five-year plan. With ambition like his, it’s bound to happen. “Why not stack millions on top of millions?” Juicy J says of his foolproof formula. “That's when you get the billions.”