Way before OJ started buzzing, Memphis had its own Juice man. As a member of Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J has been repping for the South long before it was cool to be country. Even after putting out countless material over the years and even snagging a well publicized Oscar for penning “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” a standout track off the Hustle & Flow soundtrack, Juicy is still hungry. Though you may be used to seeing his partner in rhyme DJ Paul by his side, J is stepping out on his own for his latest project, Hustle Til I Die. Still as wild as ever, XXLMag.com chopped it up with Juicy while on a liquor store run to get his new favorite drink (vodka and Red Bull) to talk about coming out of pocket for his new album, why artists should stay indie, his new cooking show and reaching back to artists in his hometown.
XXLMag.com: OK, let’s clear up the rumors out the gate. The first thing that people start wondering when they see you have a solo project is what’s up with Three 6 Mafia as a group…
Juicy J: The group is definitely not broke up, it’s stronger than ever. We got a new Three 6 album coming out at the end of the year, so it’s all good. I understand that people think that but look, it’s not happening man.
XXL: You’ve accomplished so much as an artist from platinum plaques to Oscars. What’s your motivation to still put out music?
Juicy J: I make beats every day man, I love doing music. I did this album basically to keep something in these young people’s faces because nowadays, it’s almost like they’ll forget about you. So I put this album out, [DJ] Paul’s putting his out to keep something out there. Plus an extra check in the mailbox would not hurt.
XXL: You got the Hustle Til I Die album that just dropped and you’re back on your indie grind for this record…
Juicy J: Yea, I got Gorilla Zoe, Webbie, Project Pat, Gucci Mane and it’s all independent, it’s not on a major scale. I’m putting it out myself. All the promotion I did myself. Whatever was done, it was all me. It came out of my pocket. Sony wasn’t involved, so there was no major push. But it’s all good, I’m not trippin. If I sell 30 or 40,000 copies at the end of the day, that’s cool. It’s money. It keeps the fans satisfied.
XXL: Are you doing anything different sonically this go-round?
Juicy J: It’s just that same Hypnotized Minds sound. We’ve always catered to the clubs and the parties and made records you can have a good time to. People are chasing radio but they’re going to play on the radio what’s poppin in the clubs, no matter what. So it’s just more of that sound.
XXL: You started on the underground mixtape and indie scene, has that independent route changed from then to now?
Juicy J: The indie hustle never changed, it’s always been around. It’s just that now the major labels aren’t signing people like they used to back in the day, forcing these young cats to have to put it out themselves, which is actually better if you think about it. You can develop yourself. You put out an independent album, but it’s gotta be good, you can make some money and develop your swag. If you good, you’re gonna shine. Then if you decide to go with a major you can do that 100,000 [units] the first week because people are familiar with you. But I advise anybody that wants to get into rap music to stay independent for at least 3 years, at least.
XXL: I also heard you’re jumping back into the reality TV thing…
Juicy J: Yea, we got a reality show coming right now, it’s a cooking show called “Cooking Ain’t Easy.” We shot the pilot with our own money and it’s being shopped right now. No network has picked it up yet but there are a couple networks that are interested in it. It’s a comedy show man, it’s funny than a muthafucka, how bout that?
XXL: That’s crazy. You gotta give me a few details or a run down of an episode or something…
Juicy J: Man we cooking Asian food, Indian food, Jewish food, Italian…everything you thought we couldn’t cook. We ain’t cooking soul food. It’s some stuff that’s way to the left that people never would have thought we could cook. Big Treese and Paul do the cooking, I commentate and it’s hilarious man. We got SugaFoot [from Adventures In Hollyhood] on there too. You know she gotta do her sexual recipes. When you see it you’re gonna laugh your ass off.
XXL: We recently did a blog about the best white rappers and one of your artists Lil Wyte came up in the comments. What’s up with him and the Hypnotize Minds roster?
Juicy J: He’s working, he’s got an album that’s coming out later this year. We always believe in our artists, we believe in Hypnotize Minds. We’ve just been focused. You’ll be hearing from him real soon.
XXL: A lot of cats say they put on for their city. Being legends in the Memphis rap scene have you tried to school the young dudes coming up after you?
Juicy J: Man, if we had really blown up big when we first started, in the ’90s, man I would have lost my fucking mind. But as you get a little older, you see that truthfully, this music thing comes and it goes. I try to show these guys that. Where I’m from, North Memphis, we came from nothing. I mean nothing man. You didn’t know if you were gonna get out. Project Pat’s my brother and he can testify to that. Back in the ’80s in the hood, it was terrible. So I’m blessed to have made it and I just wanna help some other people. We have artists and producers that we’re working with like a guy by the name of V-Slash and other people and just reaching back to the hood and trying to help some of these young niggas out. They got a lot of talent and they’re not signed to us or anything. No paper ties to them. We’re just trying to help them out, that’s all. It’s time for a change and time to put some new cats in the game. Helping out a young cat who can do this and feed his family, whoever it is, that’s where my heart is. –Anthony Roberts