Juicy J has a gold-plated toilet. He takes naps in a Bugatti. As he says in his song "So Much Money," he's "thumbin' through so much money, I need three hands to count it." This may sound like an exaggeration—and it could very well be one—but there's no denying that the 39-year-old rapper is a man of great achievements. He's recorded alongside Katy Perry on her 2013 single "Dark Horse." He won an Oscar for the 2006 song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." And as a co-founder of the Memphis rap outfit Three 6 Mafia, he helped lay the foundations for Southern trap music, a style of hip-hop named after a slang term for a location where drugs are sold, featuring heavy sub-bass and 808 drum-machine beats.
Born Jordan Houston, Juicy grew up in poverty but now has homes in Tennessee and Los Angeles, boasts nearly 2 million Twitter followers and plays shows in cities as far away as Abu Dhabi. His lavish rhyme schemes are plentiful, but his delivery is crisp and clear, as are the motivational messages contained within his songs about living large, smoking weed, stealing girlfriends and administering the occasional beatdown.
I recently spoke with Juicy over the phone, and he imparted some hard-earned lessons that are certain to help us all find success in this fast-changing world.
Lesson 1: Take no vacations: "Make money / no vacation"—those are the opening lines to "Stop It," the opening track off Juicy's 2013 album, Stay Trippy. Though he enjoys hitting the strip club in his off hours, he's constantly in the studio working on new projects—anything from solo mixtapes to collaborations like "Shell Shocked," a supercharged rap anthem featuring Wiz Khalifa and Ty Dolla $ign from last year's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. "I write songs all the time. I might wake up in the middle of the night and write a song," Juicy tells CityBeat. "I just work, man. I make music. If you're the type of person who really likes something you like, you'll move forward with that."
Lesson 2: Learn to multitask: Juicy often seems to be doing multiple things at once. You might hear him bragging about doubling-down on intoxicants (see his song: "A Zip and a Double Cup") or getting close with one lady while keeping another on retainer ("Got a New One"). On tour, he often brings along a portable-studio setup, letting him record and mix in his hotel rooms. In fact, he gets most of his partying done while on the job. "At the end of the day, I'm still in that studio. The music is more important to me than just kicking it," he says. "I can turn up and roll weed and smoke all day in the studio and get the vibe right in the booth."
Lesson 3: Save your money: Juicy got his start with Three 6 Mafia back in the early '90s, and after a fruitful run that saw them bag that Academy Award and release two platinum-selling albums, he eventually pursued a solo career. The recording industry has weathered a lot of radical changes since then, but rather than blow all his hard-earned cash on bottle-service bacchanalia—as some music stars might— Juicy made sure to set funds aside for a rainy day. "You gotta be smart in this business," he says. "You don't want to wake up the next morning and you don't know where your cash is at. That's like a nightmare come true."
Juicy J plays Thursday, Feb. 12 at The Observatory North Park
Lesson 4. Buy a strip club: But when you finally do have money, what do you do with it? Juicy makes sure to diversify his assets by investing in friends' companies while running his own publishing venture. "I got stuff everywhere, man." In 2012, he even released an online strip-club video game to go with his hit single "Bandz a Make Her Dance." He doesn't own an actual club himself, but when I propose the idea of opening one, he agrees that could be a smart move, considering the revenue you could make on drinks, cover charges and premium talent. "Nine times out of 10, you probably gonna win, especially right now," he says. "That might be a good investment."
Lesson 5. Follow your passions: Juicy doesn't take much for granted. Even today, with all his success, he still keeps his nose to the grindstone—thus, you get the title of his upcoming solo album due out later this year, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues. "When I get tired of doing it, I think I'll know. But I just like doing music," he says. And loving your work might be the most important of all. "I feel like if I go in the studio and stay in the studio for the next two, three months, and work, work, work, work, work, even out of hotels and whatever I gotta do, I'll come out with at least 15, 16 good records that can be for whatever: my album, a mixtape, a movie—who knows."
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