Columbia Records
Columbia Records

It’s unfortunate that Juicy J’s name doesn’t pop up as often as it should when talking about hip-hop legends. The Three 6 Mafia front man basically birthed the trippy, trap vulgarity that is heard so predominantly in today’s rap landscape. Everyone from Wiz Khalifa to A$AP Mob has been inspired by Juicy J’s early 2000's lyrical dexterity and oozing musical confidence. But in 2017, Juicy J provides more than inspiration for this generation—he’s still actively making music and bringing these young gunners along for the ride. His new mixtape, Highly Intoxicated is exactly that; a tangible look at Juicy’s embrace of hip-hop in 2017.

Some would argue that he’s using 2017’s hottest newcomers in an attempt to stay relevant through association but by truly giving Highly Intoxicated a thorough listen, even skeptics can agree that his intentions are more like serving as a trippy tutor and less like a swagger jacker. Those getting the biggest nod of approval from Juicy are the entrancingly incendiary $uicideBoy$ who executive produce the entire tape. The New Orleans duo has garnered a cult following online primarily for their haunting beats and terrifyingly emo rhymes, which clearly caught Juicy’s scouting ear. The menacing tone of the $uicideboy$ signature sound translate seamlessly onto this mixtape and Juicy seems to have no problem rapping about his luxuriously debauched lifestyle all throughout.

“Intro” picks up exactly where any Three 6 Mafia or Juicy solo project left off—so much that you would think “Poppin My Collar” dropped yesterday. Lots of perfect in-pocket rhyming and “Yeah, hoe!” ad-libs riddle the grungy production where lyrics like “This ain't a mixtape/Bitch, this a rich tape” reign supreme. After this solo shot of southern swagger, Juicy employs the talents of highly controversial rapper XXXTentacion, who performs extremely well on his “Show Time” verse despite being one of the most scrutinized figures in today’s culture. Plus, Juicy delivers his ever-winning chorus formula: flex, flash, curse and repeat. “Show out, it's show time/Wake up, get high/Spit fire, get fly/Roll up, ten times/Get out, no lie/Rollie, that's show time” is so infectious that it pretty much guarantees a sing-a-long after merely one listen.

A$AP Rocky also provides Juicy with a standout performance on “Freaky,” the mixtape’s strongest and most thorough cut. With additional production from Chase Davis and DJ Smokey, the $uicideBoy$ craft an absolute slapper of a beat. It’s the type of head-banger perfectly tailored for swag rappers like Juicy and Rocky. In fact, had Juicy come up in the late aughts, he would have probably sounded exactly like Rocky himself.

Smokepurpp (“D’Usse & Ciroc” ), Cardi B ("Kamasutra") and Slim Jxmmi (“Get Back") are among the other new-gen rappers that show out for Juicy on this tape. But don’t get it twisted; veterans like Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa and longtime collaborator Project Pat also throw Juicy some musical alley-oops throughout the tape. The amount of quality verses from these high caliber collaborators remind listeners how respect Juicy truly is.

It’s no surprise that Juicy doesn’t reach new lyrical heights on this tape. Everyone knows that he’s been rapping about the same things his entire career—drugs, champagne, money, pimping women and ferociously flexing on anyone in his way. Sure, this can get old after a few plays and truly limits the tape’s overall listening (definitely a NSFW project) but at the end of the day, Juicy's just rapping about what he knows best. He preemptively explains the reason for his concentrated subject matter on “What Did I Do”: “I'm gettin' better with this fame/Tell me what I did to make these niggas act so lame/All I did was give ’em all the sauce and all the game.”

Juicy J may not be a lyrical miracle or even really a contender for today’s top spot but he really isn’t trying to be. He’s actually doing something much more valuable with Highly Intoxicated. By sharing the spotlight with rap's newest talent—some who’ve grown up idolizing the Memphis swag lord—and even letting a new wave duo from New Orleans executive produce an entire tape, Juicy gives a much greater offering to hip-hop as a whole.

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