Juicy J is in New York and his itinerary is packed. He flew in to appear on BET’s 106 & Park and flew right back out to join Taylor Gang affiliate Wiz Khalifa on his Under The Influence Of Music Tour and to celebrate the release of Wiz’s Blacc Hollywood. Juicy has his own thing going on too. His fourth solo album, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues, is slated to drop next month, and it already boasts the single “Low” with Nicki Minaj, Lil Bibby and Young Thug. The Three 6 Mafia co-founder is really tightlipped about the project. His music might be a party, but when he discusses the process it’s all business. That’s probably why his career spans longer than most artists’ lives. Check out what the king of all things trippy had to say.
What has the process been like putting together this next project, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues?
It’s been great. I’ve just been working with different producers. So it’s been good. I love making music, doing different and new stuff. Taking it to that next level.
It feels like you’ve been super “hush hush” about this project. You dropped the first single “Low” out of nowhere. We all were a little more prepared when Stay Trippy dropped, but this time feels more mysterious.
Yeah, I’m keeping it a secret. I like to surprise people. That’s what I’m doing with this album. I never told anybody I had a record with Bibby or Young Thug or Nicki Minaj. The day before I dropped it, I was like, “Yo! Guess what?” And a lot of my fans on Twitter were like, “What?” I was like, “I’m dropping a new single tomorrow with Lil Bibby, Young Thug, and Nicki Minaj.” They couldn’t believe it. That’s what I’m doing. I’m shocking people.
Do you think you might pull a Beyoncé and just randomly drop it on iTunes at midnight one night?
Ya never know! I doubt it, but hey… If the fans and the timing and the music is right, I probably will. I probably would. Who knows?
You always identify as being a producer first, so how is it working with other producers on your projects? Do you feel like you just want to jump in grab the reigns on the production?
I love what another producer brings to the table, like a new sound. I love working with these new and up and coming producers. I feel like they’re the future. They hold the inspiration and the ideas for what the new sound is going to be, so I’m always looking to see what’s next. I feel like everyone adds their own flavor to everything.
Well you’re never one to shy away from newer talent. Putting a guy like Bibby or even Young Thug on your first single says a lot. You take a chance on people.
Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. The talent will outshine the name. A guy like Lil Bibby will come on my single — he killed that last verse, just killed it — everyone was like “Who is that? His verse was hard!” That’s what I like to do; I make people talk. I feel like that’s my way to keep ‘em talking, keep ‘em interested.
Which part of your earlier career groomed you for this superstar status. Was it Three 6 Mafia?
Well all of this really happened so unexpectedly. I was on my own, making mixtapes on my own. It popped off, and I’m runnin’ with it. Why not? I still got love for [Three 6 Mafia], I was one of the dudes who started the group. I’m Three 6 Mafia until the day that I die. Nobody can ever take that from me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. If they wanna get back together to do another album, I’m down for whatever. I’d still do my solo thing as well, because it’s a good thing. I worked hard for it. It’s only right to give the people both sides: the group side and the solo side. I enjoy it.
Didn’t you also read books about David Geffen and the music industry at the library when you were a little kid? You were grooming yourself for all of this.
My mom was a librarian and she used to bring home books. I used to tell her to check me out every book about music. I wanted to learn about every aspect of the business-side. I always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t want to come in blind. Beyond the music, I wanted to know about the publishing, producers, I wanted to know everything about it. When I was twelve or thirteen, I told my mom I wanted to prepare myself for when I got into the music business so I could know everything about the ups and downs. I wanted to make a career out of it. Some kids grow up and want to be a basketball player, some want to be doctors or lawyers. I wanted to be a musician. I actually wanted to be a singer, but rap came across my path. I always wanted to be a producer though, since Day One.
Do you think you’d put out a singing project?
I was going to but…I wanted to make an alter ego or something. I can’t sing at all, but I can write songs. I was thinking of putting out a project, but I didn’t want to put my name on it. I thought nobody would accept me if I was singing.
Is that alias project still in the cards?
Nahhhhh. I mean I can write some songs. I can’t sing at all. I tried, but I can’t [laughs]. I wrote some songs. I mean I wrote the hook for “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” the Academy Award-winning song. I wrote the hook and had Taraji [P. Henson] singing on it. It’s in me and I can write songs, but I can’t sing it myself. Writing songs comes to me naturally. It just happens; I can’t really explain it. I woke up at 3AM this morning and just started spitting a flow. It was crazy [laughs].
You’re nominated for an MTV VMA for Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” but let’s backtrack to your first big win at the Oscars with Three 6 Mafia for “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.” Tell me about that night.
I was nervous. Very nervous. I thought we were gonna lose, because we never won anything. I couldn’t sleep. I have never been in a situation like that in my entire life. It took the group to another level. We were just used to selling records out of the back of our trunks. Our music was underground; never hit the mainstream. But once we won that Academy Award, it reached the mainstream. Anytime I win anything, I’m gonna jump and shout. I don’t expect to win anything.
What keeps you so humble?
At the end of the day, I don’t take anything for granted. You could be here today and gone tomorrow. You could be on top, the Number One guy and the next day Number 100. And it happens, so I stay to myself, stay in the studio, and stay true to me. I’m not in the mix. I lead a private life that has nothing to do with my music. I think people are more interested in my music than what I’m doing. I take it one day at a time. That’s what it’s all about.