Juicy J played a major part in putting Memphis on the map and crafting a hip-hop sound that is heard in the genre more than 30 years later. As part of Three 6 Mafia, Juicy eventually became synonymous with tearing up clubs and the spirit of the Dirty South for the better part of two decades. However, after branching off from the group and rebranding himself as a solo artist, the 42-year-old rapper become more popular than ever, staying in tune with his roots and catering to his core fan base. He's also ingratiated himself to a new generation of listeners due to his willingness to collaborate with younger artists and put them under his wing.

Having joined forces with Wiz Khalifa and his Taylor Gang faction, Juicy J's buzz has only increased with his age. He's appeared alongside almost everyone (both in and out of hip-hop), from rap stars like Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, Jeezy and Big Sean to mainstream darlings like Katy Perry, Fallout Boy and Pitbull. With more than four years having passed since the release of his last studio album, 2013's Stay Trippy, Juicy has taken a break from dominating the mixtape circuit to present his latest body of work, Rubba Band Business.

Picking up where he left off with his mixtape series of the same name, Rubba Band Business is described as business as usual and finds The Juice Man calling in a cast of heavyweights to help turn up alongside him. A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, Travis Scott, Tory Lanez and Belly join him over production from the likes of Metro Boomin, Murda Beatz and TM88, the latter of which Juicy J recently signed to a publishing deal in partnership with his company, Paycheck Publishing.

Rubba Band Business may be on the way, but that doesn't mean Juicy J is done there. The rap veteran has more than a few surprises up his sleeve to end the year on a high note. "As far as music, I been cooking up, I'm on the G-Eazy remix, the 'No Limit' song," he tells XXL over the phone. "Wait ’til you hear the verse on that. I'm telling you man, it's crazy. I jumped on A$AP Ferg song, "Plain Jane." I'm on the remix on that. I got a song with Cardi B I put out this week on Spotify. It's called 'Kamasutra.' That's gonna be the first release on my label called Mo' Faces/Interscope Records. I put it out on a mixtape, but it got so hot, now I'ma go ahead and drop it on Spotify. So that record's super dope, produced by Mike Will and Resource. So be on the lookout for that."

Add another mixtape to be released right after Rubba Band Business drops and it's clear Juicy J's plate is full. With all that he has going on, XXL decided to hop on the phone with the Memphis legend to touch on his forthcoming album, working with the late rapper Lil Peep, his affinity for the $uicideboy$ and their movement, his growth as a mogul and his desire to help usher in a new era of rappers and producers.

XXL: You were one of the first artists to publicly react to Lil Peep's death via Twitter. What was your first thoughts after finding out he passed?

Juicy J: It was terrible, man. I don't really know him personally, but I know a lot of people that know him and I understand about Xanax addictions and stuff like that. I've gone through that same stuff myself. That stuff, it's no joke. It's nothing to play around with, so it's terrible, man. Just moving forward, people can learn from situations like this, you know? We all can learn from situations like this.

Were you a fan of his music and if so, what do you think made him special or unique as an artist?

I got a song with him. I did a song with Lil Peep. I never released it though—a song that I did with him last year. His music is dope. His music kinda reminds of, like, almost like Nirvana a little bit, you know what I'm saying? Kinda like rap, but still got a little rock with it.

About that song, what led the two of you to work together?

Somebody in my team reached out to his management and I had this song—it was a song me and Wiz had. We had that song and I just wanted him to do a verse on it. It's kind of like a party-like record, just kicking it and having fun and stuff like that. I wanted him to do a verse on it ’cause I listened to a lot of his underground stuff and I thought he'd be perfect to be on the song.

So he did a verse on the song and we just never got a chance to release it, though. I never talked to him, the only person I talked to was his management. And I live in L.A. and I think he was back and forth and we just never got the chance to just link up in the studio. We was supposed to get a chance to link up at the studio soon, you know, but it never happened.

What was the title of the song?

You know, we didn't even have a name for it, man. Wiz was singing on the hook saying, "Wild night, this gon' be a wild night," you know what I'm saying? Lil Peep actually performed it. He performed it. The footage is online right now. He performed it at a club somewhere, but we really never came up with a title for it. It was just a song we did and it just never got released and you know, that's just how it went.

Your new album is called Rubba Band Business. What made you choose that name for the album title?

My mixtapes was never really on iTunes or Apple Music or nothing like that. They was something we'd put on DatPiff and LiveMixtapes, so I was like, why not do something put it out on iTunes and Spotify and we just name it after the classic mixtape series we been doing, you know? Rubba Band Business. I'm just the kind of person where if nothing broke, don't fix it so I kept the same concept, you know what I'm saying?

The same style of music and Lex Luger. And I got different producers involved. I got Metro Boomin and Murda Beatz, a couple of guys I signed. If you listen to it, it's not nothing different. It's still my same vibe as I was on my Rubba Band Business mixtapes. Rubba Band Business really gave me my solo career. That's when I started blowing up, when I was doing them Rubba Band Business mixtapes. So I was like let me do something for the fans and put it on Spotify and iTunes, make it big.

How does it feel to get an official project out in streaming platforms as opposed to a mixtape?

You know what, it still feels like a mixtape to me. I look at everything like a mixtape these days ’cause I feel like the word album is just kinda like overused. I feel like it's just out the door now ’cause I feel like most artists, they drop so many mixtapes in less than a week or two weeks or a month, you know? I see artists drop a mixtape every month and to me, a mixtape is pretty much like an album, but I feel like with a mixtape you can still do what you wanna do. Do it how you wanna do it and just drop it. It really don't gotta be promoted.

You can promote it on your SoundCloud, you can promote it on your Instagram, you can promote it on your SnapChat or whatever and just drop it. These days, I feel like you don't really gotta set up an album like you used to. You just do the album, get the artwork done and just do what you do as far as promoting it. Everything now, for me, comes from the internet. I feel like the internet is the biggest place to promote. The internet is bigger than the radio, the internet is bigger than the club and you can just drop what you wanna drop.

A lot of people bring out projects at the last minute and they're like, "Hey, I'm dropping an album tomorrow." You'll see J. Cole [say], "Hey, I'm dropping a project tomorrow," and people love it. So I feel like nowadays, everything is a mixtape to me and you can do it the way you wanna do it when you wanna do it. And that's what I did with this. I just said I'll drop it when I'm ready and the time is right right now. It's December, the holidays coming up, you know, why not?

For someone that's not familiar with your Rubba Band Business mixtapes, what are some of the themes, topics and vibes you'll be exploring on Rubba Band Business the album that fans may not expect?

For anybody that's never heard any of my mixtapes, that's fucked up [laughs], but I know they heard some of my old Three 6 Mafia stuff. So whatever you like with Three 6 Mafia, it's just a mixture of old Three 6 Mafia with Lex Lugor beats, Metro Boomin beats, with Murda beats. It's a mixture of all that, you know what I'm saying, and boom, that's what it is. It's like a mixture of the old and the new.

Rubba Band Business features an array of stars. What made you tap those artists in particular to appear on this album?

The artists I got on Rubba Band Business, those are artists I listen to, those are artists that I'm a fan of. Belly, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, it's so many. Denzel Curry and then I got one of my artists on there G.O.D., a young up-and-coming dude from Chicago. So everybody that's on there, I wanted to put on there. I got Tory Lanez on the project, he did a crazy hook, the ladies gonna love that.

When I was putting this project, I was like I wanna work with this person, I wanna work with that person. I got Project Pat on there. I had to put project Pat on there to kick that ’90s feel right there. That was probably one of the hardest Project Pat artists of all-time.

One collaboration that stands out is A$AP Rocky on "Feed the Streets," which also features Project Pat. How would you describe your relationship with Rocky?

Man, me and Rocky are like family members. Man, that's my brother right there. Me and Rocky got so much music that you ain't even heard. We got so much shit together and it's unreal; we got tons of shit. We got stuff on his new album. I executive produced his last album. Me and Rocky always been working together. We always come to the studio and create something classic all the time. When I first met A$AP Rocky, the first song we did, super classic, it was done randomly. I sent him the song, he sent me the verse. I came to New York, I brought him out for a show and everything just happened organically. It was just crazy. So it's always been classic projects and songs and stuff working with A$AP Rocky.

What's a memorable moment from that studio session that you can share with fans?

Metro Boomin made the beat and it definitely sounds like 1996. It's a old Three 6 Mafia feel. It was classic. So I went in the studio and we did the song right there. It was me, Metro Boomin and Project Pat. We laid our verses, I did the scratching on the song—you can hear some scratching in there. And then I sent it to Rocky and then he heard it and then I got in the studio with Rocky and he laid his verse and that was it. Classic record.

You also have the song "Flood Watch" with Offset, who's been having a great year thus far. How does it feel to see him coming into his own and being able to work with him during his hot streak?

Offset got that flow, man. You can't deny it, that man got bars. His flow is amazing. I had to put him on that record. TM88 made that beat. Like, before I even put together that song, I used to just ride down to Malibu, every Sunday. I would get up, jump in my car and me and my driver, we would ride down to Malibu and I would just play that beat over and over again. I would just ride down and then look over to the ocean and play that beat.

And then I came in with the hook, I did a verse and then I was like, man, I gotta get the Migos on this joint. So I sent it to the Migos and Offset jumped on it and Quavo jumped on another song for me and c'mon, man, it's classic. And that's how it happened. I was sitting on that beat, that's TM88, that's my producer. I signed TM88. Super producer. He produced [Lil Uzi Vert's] "XO Tour Llif3," sold over 4 million records.

So I signed him and he sent me a pack of beats but that one beat stood out, ’cause it got this piano. It got this crazy piano in it and it just always stood out to me and I always used to always play that instrumental. Every time you would see me on a Sunday, you would see me playing that instrumental, hanging out on Malibu Beach and yeah, that's how I created that song.

You and Travis Scott dropped the track "No English," which appears on Rubba Band Business, over a year ago. What made you decide to keep it on the tracklist?

Man, I love that song and I feel like a lot of people ain't heard it. I feel like it hasn't been pushed like it's supposed to be pushed and I feel like it's still a great record ’cause I still perform it and people go crazy in the club. So I was like I'm gonna put this on the album. Why not? I don't feel like music dies, music stays alive. Look at "Slob on My Knob." I wrote that song when I was in 11th grade and right today, people are sampling and re-sampling it. It's still a popular song.

I can go in any club. I went to Japan, I did a show in Japan, this was probably eight years ago. Eight years ago, I did a show in Japan. "Slob on My Knob," I rapped the song, whole club went up. Right today, 2017, I did a show about week ago, it was a sold-out show in Springfield, Mo., and "Slob on My Knob" came on, whole club, the energy is crazy, man. So that's how I feel, man. Music don't ever die, man. It lives on.

You also remixed Travis' "Butterfly Effect" track earlier this year. Do the two of you have any other collaborations in the vault or have plans to work more together in the future?

Yeah, I'm definitely about to get back in the studio with Travis and that's my homie, too, man. That dude's super talented, amazing, but yeah, you definitely gotta look out. We haven't recorded anything lately, but we've been talking about it. We done hung out and talked about we gonna get back in the studio and we gonna cook up some brand new stuff and deliver it to the fans.

You recently launched your Mo' Faces label. How did that come about and how does it affect your relationship with Taylor Gang?

I'm still doing stuff with Taylor Gang. I'm a third CEO of Taylor Gang. It's me, Wiz and Will. So I'm the third company of Taylor Gang and then, like I said, I got a publishing company too. I have so many investments, I got that, but I still own the old school record label Hypnotize Minds. There's no activity on it right now, but I still own the whole catalog. I still own that catalog. I'm like a Jamaican dude with a thousand jobs, man. I still got that, that's still in the can.

I came up with the idea to start a clothing line called Mo' Faces. I was like, why not do a label as well? I'm the type of dude, I spread the money out. I put a little money here, put a little money there and I started Mo' Faces, but I got my homies from Memphis, I'm letting them run it so I started to give people I came up with jobs and stuff as well keep. I just try to spread all the love and keep it in the family. That's just how I am. I been doing this for over 25 years, I'm an OG in the game, I know music so I try to take my money and put it in different places.

You mentioned TM88 and that you signed him to a publishing deal. How did that occur? How did the two of you start working or go into partnership together and what's the relationship like?

I've been knowing Southside for a long time and definitely Lex Lugor, but the 808 Mafia guys, when they started getting super duper hot, I was like, I'm starting this publishing company, I'd like to know who else in 808 Mafia I can sign. I would just ask around, yo, I know Metro got his deal, Southside got his deal, everybody got they deal, but who else in 808 Mafia is hot out there? I wanna sign one of those guys, put ’em under my wing. I wanna put the money, give ’em the studio and let's cook up.

And everybody was like TM88, TM88. He's the hottest one, he's one of the hottest guys with 808 Mafia. So I reached out to TM88. I flew him out to Vegas, I signed him, put cash in his pocket and I said, "Yo, the studio is yours, man." I paid like over $10,000 for whole weekend for the studio. I said studio is yours, cook it up, just like that and he's a great dude and a hard worker and he's making news, man. Over 4 million records sold on one song.

He's a superstar and as far as being an OG, I'm a producer too, but man, I'm like look, I gotta pass the torch, that's only right. I feel like right now, I'm in a coaching position. I'm like [NBA coach] Pat Riley out here and I'm coaching these young guys, signing ’em and giving ’em knowledge about the game and helping ’em out. I give everybody fair deals. My publishing company is Paycheck Publishing. I signed a big deal with BMG. I got a joint venture with BMG. We making a lot of news over there. We got a lot of projects coming out and TM88 is definitely a superstar and I'm backing him 100 percent.

The Highly Intoxicated mixtape had you working with a lot of the new artists, including $uicideboy$ specifically. What do you think makes their music so powerful and why does he support their movement?

$uicideBoy$, they're the truth, man. I'm executive producing their new album. Them guys are like family members, man. I was on Twitter and everybody was hitting me [like], "Yo, yo yo, you gotta check out these guys, man. $uicideBoy$, their music sound like y'all. It sound like old Three 6 Mafia." And then I would go on SnapChat and somebody would go, "Yo, yo, yo, check out the $uicideboy$." So I go on SoundCloud, I'm listening, I'm smoking weed and one of their songs came on and I was like, holy shit! And I heard that shit and I was like, man, this is amazing ’cause it reminds me of my music from back in ’92, ’91.

So I reached out to ’em, we talked on FaceTime. I reached out to the producer and spoke to him on Twitter and he hit me back. We talked on FaceTime and I was like, "Yo, let's do some stuff together and work on some music." So we was sending songs back and forth. I was sending him beats, he was sending me beats. I would do a verse on something and then when they came to L.A., we sat down in the studio. We vibed out and we got a great relationship, man. We're making a lot of great music and I was making Highly Intoxicated and I was like I like, "Y'all beats, y'all beats remind me of when I was like 22 and making beats like that."

I like their production. They new, they up-and-coming guys. So I was like, "I'm working on this mixtape. Why don't y'all send me a pack and cook up and put some beats on this mixtape." And it just happened organically, man. And it was just amazing when I seen the response when I dropped the mixtape. I got so many people calling my phone. Show money picked up some more, phones ringing a little bit more than they was before. I believe because, to me, they made that old Three 6 Mafia, they made it relevant as of today and by me jumping on those songs. I guess people, they wanted to hear some of that old school Juicy J back in the early ’90s and when I did that, it was just classic. That's one of my best mixtapes. I had a lot of fun with them. You can hear it. I have a lot of energy, you know what I'm talking about?

It sound like you were revived, not that you're washed up or anything, but it just gave you that extra boost ’cause it's like your old element, but it's fresh. You mentioned that you're going to be the executive producer on their album. Let's discuss that.

I'm doing some producing, but they doing most of the beats, too. I'm doing some of the beats with them, but I'm executive producing the whole project. And them guys work hard, man. They some hardworking guys. They from New Orleans. Once you hear the album, their album's amazing. Those guys probably make 100 songs a month. They are hard workers. They're just like me. They'll go in the studio and their producer, man, he'll make like 200 beats a week. And these guys are super talented and if you ain't ever been to one of their shows, if you go to one of their shows, man, it's incredible. It's a whole new wave, I'm telling you. $uicideboy$ is like a whole new wave. Their sound has an old Three 6 Mafia feel and it's a whole new different style of music.

So is there a timetable for the album or when the people expect it?

Right now we're still working. They're on tour. I've been doing shows myself so we've been kinda missing each other on shows, but we talk to ’em every day. They sending me music. I got the whole album right now. I've been playing the album but they're still cooking up more songs. They pushed it back. I feel like let's go back in and keep working. Ain't nothing wrong with keep on working, get it to where you feel it's right and then drop it; it's no rush.

The guys are young, they're still up-and-coming and I feel like there's no rush on anything. So I just felt like, yo, why not just work for another two months and just see what we come up with and take the songs we got now and take the other songs we got and put ’em all together in one pot and pick out the best ones. That's how you make a classic album.

So you're saying the first quarter of 2018 or is there any estimate?

It's definitely gonna probably be sometime in 2018. I can't say exactly what month or what date, but it's definitely gonna be 2018 and it's gonna be an incredible album, man. They're putting their all in it, I'm putting my all in it. I'm right there every step of the way. I'm the Pat Riley of rap right now. I'm the coach and it's gonna be classic, man. Everything I put my hand on is classic. Trust me.

At this point in your career, how do you feel you've grown the most as an artist?

Man, all areas. As far as the business, I've grown so much in the business. I don't need a major label to push my albums. I love major labels, nothing against them, business is business, but I can do it myself. I got my own money. I ain't bragging, I'm just being real. I've done this shit for over 25 years. I mean, I'm rich. I got money, thank God ’cause if it wasn't for the man upstairs I wouldn't have this but now, I know what it takes.

I know what it takes to break a record in the club, I know what it takes to break a record on the radio, I know how to break a record on the internet, it's just simple. I got my own studio, I got my own publishing company, I got my own record label, I own my own masters and stuff like that and I feel like I've grown a lot, especially in the business. I know so much now that nobody can ever come to me and make me feel like I don't know what I'm talking about or I don't understand. I understand it all. I know how to read contracts, I know everything about publishing, I know everything.

And musically, I'm still here. Listen to my last mixtape. My flow ain't change. My flow is pretty much the same. My flow everybody uses today. The Three 6 Mafia sound is what everybody's using right now, which I have no problem with. I think it's great. I think it's a blessing, man. I ain't gonna lie, I feel like I'm Micheal Jackson or somebody right now ’cause I feel I'm somebody that started something back in the day and is still relevant as of today.

The sound everybody is using right now is 30 years old, you see what I'm saying? Like I said "Slob on My Knob" is still a classic record. People are still remixing the song, sampling it, chopping it up everywhere, so I just feel like I was ahead of my time. I won an Academy Award. Right now, I got an Oscar. I was ahead of my time and I'm here to embrace the young youth. All the new niggas coming up, I'm here to embrace ’em. If they need some advice on management, if they need some advice on whatever, man, I'm here to embrace ’em and they ain't gotta be signed to me.

It ain't about someone signing to me, it's about helping other people. God blessed me with what I got so why not pass that blessing down to some up-and-coming person so when they do it, they'll pass it down. That's what life is all about, helping each other.

Do you have any other new solo or collaborative projects coming out anytime soon?

Yeah, I got another project. Soon as I drop Rubba Band Business on Dec. 8, a week later, I'm dropping another tape, it's called Shut the Fuck Up. It's produced by $uicideboy$. It's classic. That's all I'ma say, it's classic. It sounds like Highly Intoxicated. The vibe of it is like Highly Intoxicated. It's classic, though. The flow on there is classic, the beats on there is classic, everything. The hook, everything The snare is classic, classic kick, classic hi-hat, you know what I'm saying?

I actually went in with the $uicideboy$ again and we created another project, but that's just how I do it. I don't ever stop. I'm going to the studio today. This is what I do. I don't even have to do this but I love doing this. This is like passion for me. This is in my heart, out of the love for it. It's not about the money or the fame, I got that. I'm good on that part, I do this out of the love. I go in the studio and I love making music. I'm not gonna walk in the studio and say I'ma throw a hook on something and a little crappy verse. No, I like classic shit. This is a hobby of mine, you know what I'm saying? I do this every day. I got my own studio, it's closed-off in a nice chill place. I walk in there and do what I wanna do when I wanna do it.

Who are some of the guests on Shut the Fuck Up or is it just you and $uicideboy$?

It's me. They produced the whole mixtape. I got a couple other producers on there. It's this other guy named Chase Davis, he did like one beat on there, and I think Murda Beatz gotta beat on there. But on the mixtape, it's actually dope, I'm working with this new up-and-coming artist out of New York, he's called Smooky MarGeliaa. I got a dope record on there from Smooky MarGeliaa, 15 years old. That guy's a genius. His music, trust me, he's gonna be big. He's gonna be a big name in music. He's up-and-coming. Shouts out to him. I got Project Pat on there. I had to put Project on there, it's only right. That's all I got on the project as of right now and $uicideboy$ did 90 percent of all the beats. When you hear this shit, you're gonna be like, "Oh my god!" It's insane.

What would you say fans can expect from you in 2018 and moving forward?

I'm working with Wiz on a bunch of stuff. Taylor Gang got a bunch of stuff coming out, Mo' Faces got a bunch of stuff coming out. I'm still signing writers. I got this new writer I just signed, his name K. Tucker. He's a ladies man. You gotta hear some of his music. He's up-and-coming. I signed him to my publishing company. I got new producers I'm signing. I'm always looking for new talent.

I got these movies, The Fuck Happened is already in the can. It's like American Pie 2020. I'm an executive producer. Situations in college, getting high and stuff like that. It's a comedy, it's a funny movie. I'm on Colt 45 [products]. I got my own bongs, I got my own glass, Juicy J Glass. I got a TV show I can't really speak on just yet, but I got something cooking with this TV show. Man, I'm just out here, still grinding. I want everybody to know that I am not going nowhere. You're gonna see me for the rest of your life. You're gonna hear and see me for the rest of your life. That's just true.

Columbia Records
Columbia Records

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