Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J has always had an electric personality. His unwavering self-confidence and enchanting arrogance, combined with a gut-busting sense of humour, have always been key components in his success. Whether it’s collaborating with pop royalty such as Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake, having a hand in the ascension of Megan Thee Stallion (see their 2019 song ‘Simon Says’), or owning the clubs with the anthemic ‘Bandz A Make Her Dance’, the rapper’s resume is rock solid.
His legendary outros on many of influential rap group Three 6’s early albums see his personality shine most, as he screams and hollers like a proud family member, celebrating himself, his crew and the city of Memphis. It’s also here that his famous “Shut the fuck up!” catchphrase was born. But on ‘The Hustle Continues’, his fifth solo album, rap’s original town crier doesn’t wait until the party’s over to let you know he means business; he starts swinging right out the gate.
“To the motherfuckers who couldn’t keep Juicy J name out their motherfucking mouth… The dope shit still go-go,” he insists in the opening moments of ‘Best Group’, assuring fans he hasn’t lost a step. The track’s menacing chords stalk the beat like a predator in the wild, providing the perfect backdrop for Juicy to assert not only Three 6 Mafia’s importance but also his own.
As he explores this theme throughout much of the 16-track album, it’s not just Juicy’s words that lay claim to his influence. The chattering hi-hats, eerie keys and tinny drum loops heard on tracks like ‘Memphis To LA’, ‘Shopping Spree’ and ‘Killa’ featuring Buffalo, New York hip-hop collective Griselda’s Conway The Machine, remind us where many of today’s most popular rap producers adopted their style.
‘1995’ sees Juicy dip into his trap-soul bag, teaming up with Logic and producer 6ix for a look back at the beginning of their careers. The track, which includes a snippet of Three 6 Mafia affiliate (and Juicy J’s older brother) Project Pat’s 2001 smash ‘Chickenhead’, was originally destined for Logic’s recent ’No Pressure’ album, but sample clearance issues prevented the Maryland rapper from using it. On ‘What I Need’, Juicy leans on another sample, though this time it operates as a lo-fi undercoat to his marijuana love story.
As with much of Juicy and Three 6’s discography, hedonism dominates the conversation. He indulges in talk of weed, women and wealth, and at times it grows a little tedious. On ‘I Can’t Stop’, he flatly raps: “I’m in between two bitches like double Dutch / Girl, shake that laffy-taffy, ah-duh-dah-duh”). His use of Ty Dolla $ign and Megan Thee Stallion on the monotonous ‘She Gon Pop It’ feels wasteful, too, limiting their talents on the album’s most unimaginative track.
But for the most part Juicy keeps things interesting, whether through humour (‘Gah Damn High’), a stellar list of all-star cameos (2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa and NLE Choppa) or the occasional change in his vocal delivery, which is never more apparent or exciting than when he dishes out a lesson in street politics on ‘Datz What Is Iz’: “N***a stole from me /
Where dat n***a live?”
Overall, ‘The Hustle Continues’ is a solid addition to Juicy’s already cemented legacy as one of the most influential artists of pop culture’s modern era.
Release date: November 27
Record label: eOne