Long before Memphis was home to an NBA team, the largest city in Tennessee was home to Three 6 Mafia.
Having formed in the early 90s—before the Grizzlies even existed—Three 6 has weathered many changes in their city, and in their profession. Along the way, they’ve had their ups and downs, classics and flops. Through it all, though, they have persevered and have helped land Memphis on the hip-hop map.
As for the state of the NBA In Memphis? Since moving down south from their chilly abode in British Columbia, the Grizz have had a lot more downs than ups, but a bright sunny sky seems to be on the horizon. Led by Zach Randolph (yes, that same Zach Randolph) and the young and talented OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay, Three 6’s hometown squad’s finally playing well—well enough to finally be more than a blip on an average NBA fan’s “map.”
With a new CD on the way, we thought it was a good time to bring together Memphis’s hoops and music scene, so we dialed up Three 6’s Juicy J. Here’s what the Oscar winner had to say…
SLAM: What have you been up to, man?
Juicy J: Just working, man. Just working.
SLAM: You been on tour at all lately?
Juicy J: I wouldn’t say tour. Been dropping mixtapes, you know, just tryin’ keep the streets fed.
SLAM: Where you calling from right now?
Juicy J: I’m in L.A. right now.
SLAM: What’s up in L.A.?
Juicy: I just have some business, you know, chasing chicks, and having business.
SLAM: When you’re out in L.A., do you ever see any of the players out at night?
Juicy J: Yeah, sometimes. I see a few of the Lakers, you know what I’m saying. Definitely, a couple of clubs, driving around in their Rolls-Royce’s and stuff like that.
SLAM: They don’t live as hard as rappers, though, do they?
Juicy J: Oh yes they do. They get more money than rappers.
SLAM: But they don’t got groupies quite like rappers…
Juicy J: Well, if you’ve got money you’ve got groupies. It don’t matter who you are, if you’ve got money, you’ve got groupies.
SLAM: Three 6 reps Memphis hard, so let’s talk Memphis hoops. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis a couple years ago. Even if you’re not a big ball fan, was that something big in the community? Were people talking about that around the way?
Juicy J: Yeah, always. I support the Memphis Grizzlies 100 percent. I’m a Memphis Grizzlies die hard fan, you know what I’m saying. The buzz is still going. I know they may win a game here, they may struggle a game there, but I’m supporting those brothers 199 percent. I’m with the Grizzlies whether they win or lose.
SLAM: They picked up Allen Iverson this summer and it didn’t exactly work out, you got any thoughts on that?
Juicy J: You know, who knows, man? I heard he had some personal problems, but I wish him the best of luck. I wish he could have stayed but I know he’s a person just like everyone else and people go through things so you know it’s all good. I’m praying for him, I’m still a fan of Allen Iverson, I’m still a fan. I think he’s a great basketball player, and I hope he comes back.
SLAM: You think he’s ever been to one of your shows? You think he’s cheering for the Mafia?
Juicy J: Man, I don’t even know. I hope he is, I hope he heard something—Stay Fly, one of our records—but even if he hasn’t it’s all good. I’m a fan of his. He handles his business on the court. He really plays good basketball you know what I’m saying, and I hope he comes back.
SLAM: There’s a lot of talk now that he drinks and gambles too much. What do you make of the media always having to create a controversy?
Juicy J: Well I mean that’s what I’m saying. People always say what they want to say on a blog or a website. I think they need to go down there, and they need to call him up and go hang out with him and talk to the real Allen Iverson, instead of just going by what they heard or what they may have seen or whatever. I think a person needs to hang out with the person cause I think the guy is a great guy. I’ve met him like a couple times and he’s very cool man. I think you need to hang out with the person before you start printing lies on what you heard, or what you think you heard. Look, we all a people man, everybody’s a person, everybody’s got problems, everybody’s got personal lives, we ain’t robots out here, we people. So you gotta understand…Nobody can judge nobody. The only body that can judge somebody is the Man upstairs. So I think a lot of the media should just lay off and let this man handle his personal business, because it’s personal, and just represent and congratulate him on what he’s done for the NBA, because he’s done a lot.
SLAM: How about you…did you play any ball growing up?
Juicy J: Man, I was mostly trying to DJ and learn how to scratch. I like basketball, basketball, football, a lot of sports, but I was mostly into my music. I was always into music, I was always DJing, I was always listening to Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, you remember Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince back in the 80’s? That was my favorite group. So I would sit at home all day and listen to Jazzy Jeff, the way he scratches. I would try to duplicate all his transform scratches and stuff.
SLAM: He was one of the earliest guys you were learning from?
Juicy J: Yeah, so I look up to Jazzy Jeff. I met him, and I said, You don’t know how much—I met both, him and Will Smith—y’all music influenced me because that’s what I grew up on.
SLAM: In the last few years, basketball has evolved, and rap and hip-hop have too. How do you stay relevant when everything’s always changing, always moving?
Juicy J: You just gotta keep your ear to the streets. You gotta keep your ear to the streets, you know what I’m saying. There’s a lot of new young cats coming up, and you gotta get out and break some bread with these folks . You gotta open the door for new talent. I tell everybody, new talent is like new rookies in the NBA. There’s always new talent. You gotta open the door for these new young’uns, young people, because they got talent, and you gotta break bread with them…Buy these guys a drink. When Three 6 Mafia started back in the 90s, we were new, people gave us chances. You gotta give everybody a chance.
SLAM: You gotta welcome them instead of trying to chase them out. You have to take them under you wing, even if they cross you like Iverson did Jordan as a rook…
Juicy J: You gotta welcome ’em. Because I believe the children are the future (singing/laughing).
SLAM: So the new album’s coming out this year, Laws of Power, what sound should we be looking for?
Juicy J: Straight gangster, man. Straight gangster. Three 6 Mafia: we’ve done a few pop records, we’ve made some money with that. But hey, our album sound was never 100 percent pop. We may have had one or two pop records on there but the rest of it was gangster. But this record right here is straight gangster. We got some brand new urban records coming out. Man, it’s jamming. We’ve been around for a long time, and it’s a blessing to still be in the game. A lot of new up and comers coming up, but we still doin’ a little something, and that’s a blessing. You know, we still grindin’. We never stopped working, regardless of what we’ve done, how much money we’ve made, we still grindin’, and that’s just the main thing of it. I want people to see Three 6 Mafia that’s done it all, that did a lot of things in life, that we still grindin’. We don’t never stop, and that’s the main thing. You can’t ever, don’t never stop. You can always produce, or help somebody else who’s up and coming out, help them, make money, you know break bread with them. So that’s what we do, we stay in the studio.
SLAM: I like the title, Laws of Power, but laws were meant to be broken, right?
Juicy J: Some of ’em, but the albums kinda about the laws of partying, the laws of going to a bar, the laws of everything.
SLAM: Speaking of laws, what helps you in your creative process?
Juicy J: I’ve always been a hustler, I’ve always been stacking some new money on top of some old money. So, that’s motivating. When I’m in Memphis, I just ride through the hood, I look around, see what’s going on, I get my ideas, my inspiration from the hood. My hood n!gg*s. They give me inspiration, man, that’s where it comes from.
SLAM: No liquid creativity necessary?
Juicy J: Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes. A lot of times I don’t like to get too wasted. I like to get wasted, but I don’t like to get too wasted when I’m in the studio because I don’t wanna pass out or fall asleep in the middle of a good song. So I drink a little bit, I drink a little vodka and tonic or something, and that gives me a couple shots, get me rallied up, then I go in.
SLAM: Ron Artest said recently that he used to drink at halftime…
Juicy J: Wow, that guy can go, man. I need to hang out with Ron Artest. Me and Ron Artest need to go to a strip club or something, man. You know, hang out.
SLAM: I heard from my XXL people a rumor that one time during a photo shoot back in the day, some guys tried to roll up and steal the camera equipment but y’all chased them down. Any truth to that?
Juicy J: Yeah. I remember a guy came up, he stole something out of the back of a truck. We had to shut something down, but he gave it back. He wasn’t trippin'; he gave it back. So it was all good.
SLAM: Last question: I know what’s in your cup, but what’s on your plate for the coming year? What should your fans be expecting from you in the next year?
Juicy J: Lots of vodka and tonics (laughing). Lots of vodka and tonic and good music from Three 6 Mafia. The new album is jammin’, it sounds like the old triple six, everyone said they want the old triple six, and it sounds like the old triple six. We got like two to three urban singles coming out, that’s gonna satisfy the taste buds of the urban world so get ready for it. The beats are ham, the lyrics are ham, everything’s ham, we gonna keep it movin’. We don’t stop, we gonna keep it movin’. You can follow us on twitter, you can follow me @therealjuicyj at twitter. You can tweet me, I’ll tweet you back. I’ll follow you back. I don’t care—you could have 2 dollars in your pocket and I’ll follow you back. You could consider yourself a nobody but I think everyone’s a somebody because you never know what the person could do now or in the future, so I’ll follow you back. You can follow DJ Paul at @DJPaulkom. We just trying to stay in touch with all the fans, with the real people.