Juicy J Isn’t Rushing an Album After New Travis Scott-Featured Single “Neighbors”
Surviving a quarter century in the rap game is no feat to sneeze at, but Juicy J has made it look effortless, as he continues to pour up from the fountain of youth while giving Father Time a run for his money.
The Memphis rep may have spent the first half of his career as one of the masterminds behind Three 6 Mafia—one of the seminal hip-hop collectives of the 1990s and aughts—but after breaking away from the group about a decade ago, Juicy has found success as a solo act. He's aligned himself with younger stars like Wiz Khalifa, now assuming the role of part-owner and A&R representative of the label of Taylor Gang.
Since releasing his 2017 album Rubba Band Business, Juicy J has kept his name in the mix by becoming an elder statesmen, mentor and collaborator to other artists, lending his talents to stars like A$AP Rocky and Rae Sremmurd, as well as upstarts like $uicideboy$.
With the release of his Buddah Bless-produced new single "Neighbors" featuring Travis Scott and a forthcoming collaboration with Kevin Gates and Lil Skies, it appears Juicy J has put the focus back on himself musically and is gearing up for a new album release which, according to him, could be dropping soon.
Juicy J hopped on the phone with XXL to speak on "Neighbors," working with A$AP Rocky and Rae Sremmurd, and his plans to revolutionize the major label system.
XXL: Your new single "Neighbor" just dropped. What was the inspiration behind that track?
Juicy J: Travis hit me up like, "I'm working on Astroworld, come by the studio and bring me some beats." I went straight to the studio. I played him beats, we vibed out for about three hours and on my way out, I was like, "Throw me something for my album, man. I know you got some heat on your hard drive." He pulled the song up and it was just a long verse. It wasn't really in format, but the shit was just hard. It blew me away. I was like, "Damn, man, appreciate it brother." He let me get the session and I just took it to my studio, chopped it up, put the hook right here and the verse right there and wrote me a verse up. That was it. That shit was like a puzzle, it just needed an extra couple pieces.
How would you describe the studio session for that track? What was the vibe?
I had played a bunch of beats I think he was trying to work on. He was actually making a beat in the studio for a second and then we started listening to some more beats. He recorded a couple songs over a few beats that I gave him. The vibe was crazy, man. Travis, the way he record, he just smoke a blunt and jump on the microphone and spit. He's super talented. He'll be on the mic, on the engineering board, he'll jump on the keyboard for a second, work on a beat and then he'll jump back to the microphone and lay a verse or lay a hook and go to another song. He be in there grinding.
How would you describe your relationship with Travis?
I love Travis' energy. He's like a family member. It's always love in the studio. When we go to a session, we probably don't even do music. We probably just sit there and talk about stuff that's going on in the world—real-life shit—for about an hour. Sports and shit. He like a little brother. I give him advice and he gives me advice, too. He told me I can see into the future [laughs]. I thought that was funny, but that's love. That's just paying homage and showing love. Hopefully I can jump on that tour he got coming up. I need to hit him up. That's gonna be a big-ass tour.
Actually, when I did my tour he used to open up for me. When I seen his energy, I was like "That dude right there, I want to work with him." And he jumped on the tour with me. He had the crowd going crazy and he only had a few songs out. But I seen his energy.
You also recently appeared on Rae Sremmurd's single "Powerglide." How did that collaboration occur?
Swae [Lee] had put the snippet on his Instagram and I was like, "That's hard as fuck." I went to one of my homies' birthday party and ran into Swae Lee and I was like, "That 'Powerglide' song is hard as fuck, I need to jump on that, that's classic." Producer Maaly Raw was with him and he sent me the track and I jumped on that muthafucka and the rest is history. That song done went three, four times platinum [laughs]. From the old song to the new song.
Rae Sremmurd are known for their high-octane brand of energy, something that also made fans gravitate to you and Three 6 Mafia's music and live performances. Do you see any similarities?
They remind us of us back in the day. Jxmmi definitely reminds me of myself [laughs]. Jxmmi be turned up. Jxmmi be drunk like me in the studio, smoked out, but still be laying hits. They work ethic—them dudes work hard. They work like we worked back in the day. They go in the studio, smoke they weed, do what they do, but they be in there making hits. I remember before Mike WiLL [Made-It] even signed them, he sent me some of their music and was like "What you think of these dudes from Tupelo, Mississippi." I said, "These young niggas cold right here, you need to sign these niggas quick." Shoutout to Rae Sremmurd and Mike WiLL [Made-It]. I been working working with them dudes, we done did a lot of projects together.
You helped A$AP Rocky construct his recently released album Testing. How would you describe the experience?
Every time me and Rocky go in the studio, we make really really good records. It don't take no long time, it don't take too much thinking. Rocky just came out to the studio maybe like a month ago. He walked in, sat down and I played one beat and he was like, "Oh shit." He listened to it for maybe 30 minutes, went in the booth and freestyled that shit. But the process on that album was amazing. Rocky got some ideas, I bring some ideas to the table and we just put that shit in a pot, cooked it up and came out classic. Like I said, he got some new stuff coming out and I did some beats on there and it's gonna be amazing, man.
And I been working with this other group called $uicideboys, I executive produced their project and co-produced a beat on their album. Those dudes got the same work ethic as me, Rocky, Travis and Rae Sremmurd. They recorded 80 percent of their album in my studio and their work ethic is boom-boom-boom, knocking out like three to four songs a day. I like working with people like that. It's good to see young people that got that talent and hunger and are still humble.
You were early in embracing and collaborating with younger artists like Wiz Khalifa. What do you think it is about your personality or approach that helps you reach that common ground?
I spot talent from a mile away. I can spot good music, good talent and a good personality. I'm still working with Wiz—me and Wiz got some other stuff coming out. It's gonna be crazy. I can't wait for y'all to hear it, but everything is a secret, can't give y'all the secrets. But I always been like that. I always try to give a person a chance. A lot of people don't give people a chance. It has nothing to do with your buzz, it don't got nothing to do with none of that shit. If you're a cool person, you're chill, you're talented and trying to come up in this game, that's what I'm here to do. We all gonna make money together—it's enough money for everybody. I just I like working with different people, different producers. I been like that all my life. I'm in talks—I'ma go up to Columbia and have me a little meeting and hopefully they give me a position over there, like CEO or president. I always wanted to do stuff like that. I'm not so much, like, the spotlight guy.
The spotlight is cool, but I never considered myself the main guy. I always felt like I'm a dope-ass producer. I'm good at what I do in the studio, but I like to bring in other people and make this person a star, make that person a star. I don't really have to be the star. But I feel that's just my calling, man, to run a major label and change it around into a different format and change the way artists get paid—change up everything. Just trying to come down to more of an artist level and see what their interests are, 'cause I see a lot of artists doing stuff on their own nowadays and they be needing a little bit of major push. But sometimes I feel like someone just has to come in and change it. I'm ready to do the new wave with the labels just like L.A. Reid did. L.A. Reid came in and made shit happen. Def Jam came in and made shit happen. Now it's time for Juicy J to come in and step up.
You've been lending your talents to projects from other artists, but when can fans expect another studio album or mixtape from Juicy J?
I probably got like 50 songs done, real shit. I got a whole project done with $uicideboys, we got a joint project together. I got records with Rocky, I got records with Wiz, but I feel what the time is now, I don't think I should just be concentrating like "I gotta drop an album." I'm dropping this single ["Neighbor"] and then I'm dropping this other single that's dope as fuck featuring Lil Skies and Kevin Gates, it's crazy as hell. I'ma just go with the wave, the vibe I'm feeling. If I feel like dropping an album in the next week or two, I'ma drop it 'cause that's kinda what's really going on right now. It ain't really about the rollout no more. I'ma drop some singles right now and then we'll see what happens.
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