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Juicy J talks touring, Barry White, and the enduring popularity of “Bandz A Make Her Dance”

Juicy J

Juicy J stays grinding. Born Jordan Michael Houston, J’s unbridled talent combined with his relentless work ethic places him in the upper echelon of truly great rappers. 

His interest in the rap business began at the age of 13 when he started checking out books from the library on the music industry. He got his official start as the cofounder of Memphis group Three 6 Mafia, known for churning out party tracks laced with grisly, gothic-style beats and winning an Academy Award in 2006 for Best Original Song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from the film “Hustle and Flow.” 

While winning an Oscar opened new doors for Three 6 Mafia, many would argue it led them down the wrong path of exposure. After starring in the failed reality show “Adventures in Hollywood,” the group experienced a lull, motivating Juicy J to focus on his solo career. It wasn’t until 2012 when the release of the chart-topping single “Bandz A Make Her Dance” propelled him back into the spotlight. The song was dropped on Juicy J’s Twitter account and unexpectedly blew up, eventually going Platinum. Juicy J had been resurrected. He is currently on a 36-city tour with Canadian rapper Belly in support of upcoming album Rubba Band Business: The Album, a follow-up to his 2013 album Stay Trippy.

The Tulsa Voice: Your tour starts in less than 10 days?

Juicy J: Yep, can’t wait to get on this road.

TTV: How are you feeling about it?

Juicy J: I’m great. I’m feeling really great.

TTV: You’ve been staying busy with your mix tape releases in 2016. Is Rubba Band Business: The Album still set to release early this year?

Juicy J: Yeah, we are going to try and release it in February or March, somethin’ like that.

TTV: How’s releasing a full-length album after so many singles? 

Juicy J: It’s great. I’ve put a lot of hard work into this—well, I put a lot of hard work into all my projects. Albums are more intricate. On a mixtape you just do what you do, you can put like 20 songs on there. But this album I have to narrow it down to almost 14 songs. There’s something for everyone, ya know? Songs for my old Three 6 Mafia fans, some stuff for my new fans—there’s definitely a mixture.

TTV: Any interesting features on the new album you can talk about?

Juicy J: Umm, I got a lot of surprises, you know what I’m sayin? I kind of like to keep things a secret. I might be playing a few songs on my livestream on Instagram, but I don’t really like to talk about what I got goin’ on or who I got on the album, I like to surprise people. 

TTV: Will you be playing some of the classics with Project Pat on tour?

Juicy J: Oh always. I gotta do that. I cannot get on stage and not do a Three 6 Mafia set. I do that every time I perform. 

TTV: So I gotta ask, are you sick of journalists constantly referencing back to “Bandz A Make Her Dance”? 

Juicy J: Nah, it’s all good. I made that song, you know what I’m sayin’? It encompasses me and my career. I love talking about it, it’s great, I have no problem discussing that record. It’s encompassing. 

TTV: Can you describe what it felt like seeing your song blow up when you weren’t expecting it?

Juicy J: It’s amazing. Especially, like you said, when you don’t be thinking it will—it hits you by surprise. I think it’s really great just to be able to still be in the game and come up with a record like that on some solo shit. I mean it was amazing. I can still perform that song, I can’t complain at all.

TTV: When I was researching I thought, “holy shit, that came out in 2012 and it’s still so relevant.” I mean, it’s still played all the time. 

Juicy J: You could play it right now and they’d still turn up, they go crazy.

TTV: I know you pride yourself on being business and money-savvy. Do you have any advice for up and coming artists who might struggle with that side of things?

Juicy J: Save your money, pay your taxes, ya know what I’m sayin’? I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, you’ve got to manage your money, you never know when this stuff is going to (end). Music is weird—one minute you’re poppin’, the next you’re back at your house doin’ nothin’. Save some money for a rainy day, there’s definitely goin’ to be some rainy days. You come up, you go down, you come up, you go down. If you manage your money right you’ll always be successful, you’ll always have good investments, and something to fall back on, and you won’t have to bust your ass to try to rap and get a bill paid, you know what I mean? 

TTV: Many would argue that you and Gucci Mane have some of the best work ethics in the rap game, would you agree with that?

Juicy J: Yeah yeah, Gucci Mane and I, we work the same, definitely. We both stay in the studio and we got a lot in common. We’re both from the south. Gucci is a good friend of mine, ya know. He’s killin’ it right now so, yeah, that’s the truth. We southern guys, man, we believe in ourselves and we believe in our dream and we stay at it and we get it, ya know? 

TTV: Do you have anything to say about the Trump presidency? 

Juicy J: Nah, I really don’t deal in politics, I’m just the Juicy guy. I let them politics stick with those politicians, ya know? 

TTV: What is your favorite Barry White song?

Juicy J: Oh my god, I got so many. Barry White is one of my favorite musicians of all time. I mean you got “I’ve Got So Much to Give”—there’s just so many. I could go for days. I wanted to meet that guy before he passed away. I used to listen to this stuff like clockwork growin’ up—break out the Barry White, ya know? He had a lot of great records. A lot of people don’t know that Barry White was like a conductor, he had a whole orchestra. He put out albums he wasn’t even singing on, he would just let music play. I thought that was the dopest shit. 

TTV: Is there anything else you’d like the public to know? 

Juicy J: For every state that I go to on the tour where weed is legal I’m giving out free weed. But weed gotta be legal in the state or I’m not givin’ it out. I want my fans to cry, ya know? So I’m givin’ it out for free. Free weed. 

Juicy J will perform at Cain’s Ballroom on Sat., Feb. 18 with support from Belly and Project Pat. Alas, there will be no free weed. For tickets and more details visit cainsballroom.com

For more from Mary, read her interview with Nappy Roots.