He’s been in the game for more than twenty years, won an Oscar and tore up plenty of clubs along the way. But legendary Three 6 Mafia emcee, Juicy J continues to receive the mainstream love of a new artist thanks to Top 40 hits like “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” as well as collaborations with Pop stars like Katy Perry.
HipHopDX spoke with the Taylor Gang rhymer and co-chief on the set of the music video for DJ Felli Fel’s summertime smash “Have Some Fun,” (which features J as well as Pitbull and Cee Lo) where he talked about linking up with super producer Dr. Luke, getting back into the movie game and how his early grind affected his recent success.
HipHopDX: You wrote “Bandz A Make Her Dance” in a hotel, spent time building a buzz with the mixtapes. How much of your recent success goes back to what you were doing in the ‘90s?
Juicy J: Just grinding, like you said, I wrote the song in a hotel. That happened for real, you know what I’m sayin’? Back in the day I passed out mixtapes, I passed ’em out — out of the trunk. This time it’s the internet. You do a mixtape, you throw it out on the internet. You still pass out a few, but it seems like the internet is stronger now, but it’s still the same kind of hustle just in a different way.
DX: And you’re working with these younger dudes like Lex Luger and Mike WiLL Made-It?
Juicy J: Oh yeah, definitely. I definitely had to mix in with the young producers and new up-and-comers, man. As an OG, it only looks right for an OG and an up-and-coming rapper to work together.
DX: Not everyone has that attitude.
Juicy J: I wanna keep this movement alive. I feel like it’s a blessing man, ‘cause there’s a lot of guys. A lot of these rappers out here, they have no way out of the hood but rapping so I gotta keep it up.
DX: What is it about your sound — that mix of 808s and soul samples — that still appeals [to people] after so many years?
Juicy J: Man I think it’s just, you know, it’s legendary music. It’s classic, and some people just — I’m not gonna say they’re bitin’ it — but they might hear a Three 6 Mafia beat, and be like, “I want my beat to sound like this with the bass in it.” But it’s all good with me. I like it. I enjoy it man. I love when people remix my sound ‘cause it don’t even matter man ‘cause it’s all about longevity man, and it’s all about giving back and keeping Hip Hop rollin’ you know?
DX: How did you originally meet Dr. Luke, and what were those initial conversations like?
Juicy J: I been knowing Luke for over eight years. He was working on a Three 6 Mafia album at the time, like around 2008-2009 somewhere around there, and we just been friends ever since. He’s asked me to come through the crib, and we had the studio at the crib and we would make songs so we always stayed good friends man. We linked up after I started doing my solo stuff and here we are. “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” Stay Trippy, Katy Perry, he’s the one that put me on that record, so Dr. Luke’s the man man.
DX: Felli Fel said to just say the word “Hollywood house.” Talk about some of the old parties and the craziest nights you remember.
Juicy J: Yeah man, it’s been…that was crazy at that Hollywood house man. So many parties, everybody used to come through, we used to have a good time. Rest In Peace Pimp C, he used to come through a lot. Bun B, Jeezy, it was like a big party house and we would invite everybody to come over. We had the studio in the house and we used to make music and stuff like that. It was cool man. That’s legendary classic memories I’ll never forget.
DX: Do you remember the last time you hung out with Pimp C and maybe the last thing you guys spoke about?
Juicy J: Man, last time I talked to him he was in LA. I had hit him up because we were supposed to be getting in the studio the next day.
DX: In October it’s the 20th Anniversary of Scarface’s The Diary. Anything you can say about that album or on how it influenced you?
Juicy J: Man it’s just classic man. Just super classic man. That album gave me inspiration. I still bump that album today. All that music is classic.
DX: You’ve really shown that you can do anything. A Katy Perry joint or whatever. What are some other outside the box things you’ve thought about doing?
Juicy J: I don’t know, you know what I’m sayin’? I wanna get back in the movie game real tough. I just wrote a song with Travis Barker. We did a song for a movie, 22 Jump Street. But I wanna get back like really deep in it like I used to be when I was writing songs and making original music for movies.
DX: And scoring?
Juicy J: That too. All that, everything. I wanna get real deep in that cause that’s like my second love outta making rap music. It’s like my second love, the movie game.
DX: What would be your ideal type of movie to score?
Juicy J: A James Bond Movie. Or any action film or whatever. Or a horror flick.
DX: You have any Rock collabos on the horizon?
Juicy J: No. I wish I did. I wish I had a Metallica and Juicy J. that would be dope. I said I wish! I don’t have that; I wish I did.