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Juicy J Plays To His Strengths On ‘Stay Trippy’

It is a very rare thing in hip-hop when rappers are granted a third act in their career. If you’re lucky, you will get a shot at a second but the third act is anomalous. LL Cool J told you not to call “Mama Said Knock You Out” a comeback but the truth is rap is a young man’s game and if you are lucky to get that second shot, you almost never get a third.

Juicy J is getting his opportunity to make the most of us his third shot on the wheel of fame. The first act of his career with Memphis rap legends, Three 6 Mafia, was the story of an under-appreciated underground group going from hustling mixtapes out of the trunk to achieving platinum-selling success. The second act saw the group unexpectedly conquering the American mainstream after their shocking victory at the Academy Awards for Best Song made them household names in 2006. Like so many gifts, though, it came with an unforeseen curse. Mainstream attention brought unwanted pressure and for a group that made their careers on a niche-y cult following, the group started to splinter under the expectations. Soon, the group dwindled to Juicy J and his fellow group leader, DJ Paul, before Three 6 Mafia finally fractured for good.

After the dissolution of the group, Juicy J laid low for a years, releasing a series of mixtapes that seemed to please hardcore fans but failed to attract the attention of hip-hop’s fickle mainstream. It seemed as if it were over for the Juice Man but in early 2013, he walked into the offices at Columbia and delivered “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” an instantly iconic stripper anthem that fans latched on to for it’s swirling, atmospheric production and memorable, sing-songy lyrics. Anticipation built for the release of a new solo album but as the months went by and no release came, fans wondered if “Bandz” were a one-time thing. Stay Trippy is finally here and I’m pleased to say that it does not disappoint.

Stay Trippy is exactly what it needs to be at this point in Juicy’s career. He’s doggedly sticking to his strengths and that persistence works in his favor here. As they enter the late stages of their careers, many artists fall into the trap of pushing a newfound “maturity” into places that feel dull and lifeless. As a man who is best known for rapping about syrup sipping, it would be lame if Juicy tried to rhyme about the existential angst of purchasing overpriced art. Tax advice rap is not Juicy’s wave, so what we get is a record about what Juicy loves: strippers, drugs and robbing people.

The production is where the real progression happens on the record. Juicy’s choice to eschew the dark Memphis crunk of Three 6 Mafia for the swirling atmospherics of Mike Will Made It’s upscale strip club aesthetic is a very wise decision. It’s the difference between a back-room nudie shack and popping bands at Scores. The album sounds like the blur of a three-day molly binge in Atlanta on All-Star Weekend. This is a good thing. At the same time, it feels close enough to the classic Three 6 Mafia sound that long-term fans are not going to feel that Juicy completely abandoned them to write pop songs for Miley Cyrus to twerk to.

A great sound can’t make up for an album lacking in songs and Juicy J delivers on that front, too. While nobody is ever going to accuse Juicy J of having bars, the album highlights a strong songwriting craft honed over twenty-years of writing stripper and codeine anthems. “Bandz A Make Her Dance” sounds as wickedly fun as when you first heard it and when it’s partnered with druggy party starters like “Bounce It,” “Smokin’, Rollin,” “Wax” and “Stop It,” the effect is enhanced. While Juicy J is not traditionally “lyrical” in the Kendrick-sense of the word, Juicy is funny and his hooks are ready for chanting. The strength of Juice and Three 6 Mafia was always the cathartic aggression channeled through their ability to turn everything into a chant. Juicy’s retains and builds on this quality throughout Stay Trippy.

While the album features some missteps—the song with Justin Timberlake (“The Woods”) is lifeless and the record feels a few songs too long—these are ultimately minor issues. Stay Trippy is a record that knows to stay within the lane that it’s carved for itself. Big-budget stripper rap has rarely sounded so fresh. Stay trippy for life, mane.

  • Peso

    respect for Juicy J and this comes from a lyrical hip hop head. When he signed to Taylor Gang I thought it was dumb but he proved me wrong. You cant never count out a dude that knows how to grind & hustle in the music business – he proved that years ago with 3 6 Mafia.
    stay trippy

    • RagnarDanneskjöld

      True, plus his collab with The Weeknd (One of those Nights) is probably one of the best songs & videos of this past summer.
      Stay Trippy…

  • Guest

    I fail to see the originality in rapping about money.

    • jarvis1104

      I’m a huge fan and I completely agree with your comment. This album was an enjoyable L. The originality rating can’t be explained.

    • Pizzainn

      Hes rapping about money, cars, woman, chains and all that but its the way that he does it that puts it in originality. Juicy J is a southern legend and hes doing exactly whats he supposed to be doing, no one wants him to be rapping “N.Y State Of Mind” hes doing southern rap.

  • Nick James

    Everyone gets an XL these days…

  • wootwoot

    This album is not xl. How can it, when every song is about same exact subject? I think XXL should check their reviewers more often. I think the originality of this album is zero. The new Juicy J works on one or two song bites, but the whole album starts to bore after few songs.
    And for that matter, how can anyone post a review after only one day after the album is released? I think there should be AT LEAST 3-4 days listening before the review is written.

    • Pizzainn

      They get the album before it is released

  • Infinite8

    This is album is damn near trash! Every song sounds like Bandz the way he raps on each record. Maybe 2 or 3 songs are ok. I knew he was make gonna make the entire album sound like Bandz rap style! Straight trash man! Cool u wanna make stripper music! But damn mix it up!

    • Pizzainn

      Dude, that’s the music that juicy j makes, its the style of hip-hop that he does

  • Nick

    the beats should’ve gotten an XXL and the originality should’ve gotten a L. But either way this a perfect album to just blast in your ride

  • Scorpio

    You give this garbage an XL rating and still stand by the L you gave J. Cole. Your ratings are as relevant as the mic ratings in The Source during the Benzino era. The lack of credibility negates your entire review section.

  • BrianRaider

    I Havent Heard The LP Yet. But Im Gonna Go Back To The Last Three Six Discussion. Juice & Paul As Producers Are Genius! Get Back Together! Hypnotized Minds Doesn’t Have To Be Defunct Yall Still Got It. Do It For The Fans! & Yall Could Make More Money! I Wish They Would Still Produce Together Man They Were Untouchable. But Its Good To See Juice Still Poppin!

  • Hip-Hop Opinion

    i fail to understand how this is better than Born Sinner. someone explain?

  • Javis Williamson

    yall gave this shit a xl but trap lord a l juicy uses the same flow every chorus every verse every song sounds the same fergs album was way more dynamic ferg got way more flows than juicy

  • BillyBobJohn

    lol how can you give this a xl what fool wrote this lol

  • SIMPLY.UNIK

    stop comparing and just support the musicalbum is good wth my $

  • LeFlaire

    Man, this is not near a XL rating. Also, Trap Lord was also garbage. Just because you can say a catchy line and have drums and snares doesn’t mean you’re good. I hope you put your bandwagoning ass “in the dirt.”

    • Javis Williamson

      trap lord was way better than this shit how is it bandwagoning when niggas aint even hip to ferg bandwagoning is when everybody riding a niggas dick. you a corny ass nigga next time if got something to say click the reply button and respond to me directly gucci mane dickriding ass ho

  • 2012Industry1

    Crazy as it seems…this deserves an XL! Juicy gave you exactly what you expect, and brought some unexpected 3-6 into the mix too! The beats are banging and no one can do Juicy better than him! I’m a Hardcore Hip Hop Head, and will give credit where it’s due, and Juicy deserved this! Best album he’s put out since that last 3-6 album with that Stay High record on it! If you haven’t heard it, you can’t judge it, but my it’s own merit (not comparing him to J, Cole or Big Sean or Drake) he came with what you expect him too! Wouldn’t expect intellectual rhymes, dope lyrical metaphors and such from Juicy! He came correct, much deserved rating. Good job XXL

  • Terrence Taylor

    Album deserves this rating. Can’t compare Juicy J to J. Cole lames. Different rap genres completely. This album is an XL for what it is, a pop a pill, smoke a blunt, sip some lean and bang this album while DUI. Ferg album was so-so with a few highlights, nothing more. I do agree that you can’t judge an album off of a one day listen though…sites need to stop doing that.

  • KCsGreat

    Is it me, or is the part of the review about “angst over spending on overpriced art” kind of a shot at J? Same with the tax line? Funny how the hater in critics shines through in their work

    • KCsGreat

      Just to clarify, since the album is Juicy J……I meant I think its a shot at Jay Z.

  • Jay DeLuca

    Love the sounds on dis album! Juicy chose dope ass beats dope producers stay motivated stay high stay hustin!!!fuck everything ELSE……gonna cop it dis week deff wrth my $ and a spot in my ARCHIVES BOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIi…………………..WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX G-PEN WESTCOAST KIIIIIIIIIIIIID #greatness starts @ 4:45am

  • simply.unik

    listen!!!!!!!!
    let me tell u broke niggas something

  • SS87

    This album is everything a long time 3-6 fan, and oddly enough, a new Juicy J fan can ask for

  • BANGBANG

    I think from now on your team of “writers” need to all put in a vote and then just give us the average. There is too much bias in these reviews for them to be taken seriously

  • cmack510

    i have the most up most respect for juicy j, people who gave this album bad reviews simply have never listened to him or never listened to 3 six mafia before…dudes been in the game for a long time an still come with the best club bangers, idk how he does it, an that track he did wit pimp cc was classic

  • 2pac1996

    So XXL Was Being Polite..