Juicy J doesn't want to talk about strippers. He's indignant when reporters bring up his drug use. Though his music suggests otherwise, he insists that he doesn't spend his time tucking $100 bills into G-strings and popping molly. At heart, Juicy J is a businessman who'd rather talk about the value of saving money.
Juicy has been in the rap game since 1991, when he co-founded Southern hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia alongside DJ Paul and Lord Infamous. In 2006, Three 6 won an Academy Award for their song "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp," featured in Hustle and Flow. But the last two years have arguably been the biggest of Juicy's career. He released his third solo album, Stay Trippy, in August last year, which features the platinum single "Bandz a Make Her Dance," as well as "Show Out," "Bounce It," and "Talkin' Bout." At the 2014 Grammys, Juicy performed "Dark Horse" alongside Katy Perry. He's also featured in "23" with Wiz Khalifa and Miley Cyrus, who, rather unfortunately, decided to try rapping on the track.
Gimme Noise caught up with Juicy J a few days before his show with older brother Project Pat and Travis Scott at the Myth in Maplewood to chat about responsible drug use, investing money, and the dreaded possibility of overdosing on water.
Gimme Noise: Where are you right now?
Juicy J: Nashville, Tennessee.
Can we talk a little bit about your mixtape Blue Dream and Lean? What inspired "Aint Allowed Where I'm From"?
[Just was] in the studio smoking green and we did it. There are so many [songs] on that mixtape that really broke my career, that really helped me out -- got me where I am today.
Did you expect any of that?
I didn't expect any of that. I knew it was great, some of the best stuff I'd ever done, but I didn't know it was gonna be big like that. You never know how this music game goes, because it's so up and down, you know?
Your solo material is definitely a departure from Three 6.
I mean, you know when you doing solo, pretty much it's all me, you know? When you're with a group you kind of compromise. [Now] it's just me being me.
Are you really a strip club regular who's constantly doing drugs?
I do not do drugs constantly and I'm not at the strip club every day, no. I go to the strip club when I get a chance, but a lot of the time I'm in the studio. I smoke weed, you know what I'm saying, but I do things responsibly. I'm not gonna overdose on any drug. I'm not a crazy person like that. I'm responsible for whatever I do. I enjoy living, you know what I'm saying? And you have to be smart about everything you do. You can't be stupid. You drink too much water you could kill yourself. You could OD on water. It's true. You never overdo yourself on anything. You gotta be responsible if you like living on this earth.
Most of the time, I'm at the studio. I'm always working. I run a lot of my own business, I manage my own self. I manage my own taxes, I make sure my mom is straight. I know where all my money is at. I save some money for a rainy day. I don't spend it all on jewelry, cars. You know, I got money to do that, and you know, you can do that, but don't spend all of it. I wouldn't dare spend all my money on jewelry and cars. Get the money invested in some things and let it turn around for the future.
What do you think appeals to fans about your lyrical content and "Stay Trippy" aesthetic?
I mean it is what it is -- it's me. Get turned up to my music. My music is fun. It's inspirational for everybody. It's not all about weed smoking. I've been doing this for over 15 years and I'm still out here grinding. You gotta look at the main parts of my whole career. It's gotta be inspiring for somebody who wants to get into the music business for me to be still doing what I'm doing -- what I love doing -- and to still be doing it better than I did it back in the day. I think being trippy is being uplifted.[page]
How has growing up in the South inspired your music?
I grew up in a rough neighborhood. It got me to hustle. It made me smart [and made me] make better decisions. I got a family of six people, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment. I watched a lot of different things -- being broke, no food in the refrigerator, to where I am right now. I talk about stuff that I've been through. I talk about stuff that I'm doing now. From living in a two-bedroom apartment with six people to living in Beverly Hills and livin' in a big mansion and making such big accomplishments as winning an Academy Award and to still be relevant in 2014. I just performed with Katy Perry at the Grammys, which is a huge thing for my career. I'm living the dream. It's amazing.
Are you able to stay grounded throughout all that?
Yes, I always stay grounded. One thing that's great is I've been down this road before when I won the Academy Award and sold records with the group back in the day, so I'm prepared for what comes my way now. Back then, I wasn't prepared, but I was smart. Now I'm more smart than I was back then. I can see what's real and what's not.
What was that transition like when you were first getting started?
It [was] great. You've gotta be able to... don't lose it. What I mean is don't let yourself go. Don't spend all your money. Don't go crazy. Don't go ridiculous wild with it. Don't overdo yourself on drugs, you know what I'm saying? A lot of people, they just overdo themselves.... You gotta make sure your business is handled. The music, it stops and goes. One minute you be hot, the next you not. If you wanna have longevity in this business, save your money. Make sure you got some money that's gonna last you for the rest of your life. Don't just get the first little million dollars and go spend it on a car or buy a house and then you've got nothing left to show for it -- you've got to be smart about everything you do.
Where did you learn the business side of things?
Just growing up in the hood -- being around a lot of drug dealers and shit and see how they was taking their money and investing it. I never was the smartest kid in school, but as far as street shit... I knew streets. I knew everything about the streets. And I read books. I read a lot of music books. I read like 15 music books when I was 13 years old. My mama was a librarian and I told her to check me out many music books. I read about everything. It helped me out a lot, so when I got a deal, I knew a lot about the points before I even saw the contract.Juicy J. With Project Pat and Travis Scott. 18+, $26/$40, 8:30 p.m., Friday, March 28, at Myth. Tickets.
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