It’s strange having a conversation with Juicy J. Judging by his music, you’d expect to sit down and learn from him the proper way to hold a dollar in between your teeth so some stripper can grab it while swinging from a pole. That’s not the case at all. The former Three 6 Mafia kingpin is all about his business, and today he’s amped over his hit single “Bandz a Make Her Dance” going gold. The cut sends a nod to the bands of money that get asses shaking in the club. It’s just the kind of anthem that transcends age, and since aligning with Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang it seems like Juicy discovered his fountain of youth. He’s prepping for this year’s release of Stay Trippy, tapping guys like Dr. Dre and Jay-Z to assist him. Always with his business hat on, he breaks down his career, which may include owning a strip club someday, and reveals the likelihood of another Three 6 Mafia album.
VICE: Congratulations on “Bandz a Make Her Dance” going gold!
Juicy J: Hey thanks a lot. I appreciate that.
Were you shocked by the news? Had you been following the numbers for the single?
Uh yea, I was shocked. I caught the numbers at first, when it first came out but I got so busy on the tour. A lot of times, I try not to let numbers and stuff like that keep my spirits up. I just try to keep stay working and that keeps my spirits up, you know what I mean? So at first I was on it, but next thing you know I was kinda trying to be like, what's the next record? You know, I'm always trying to think about the next thing.
How are you going to be celebrating?
I'm going to Vegas tomorrow! I got to do a show in Vegas so I'ma go to Vegas and I'ma turn up a little bit. I'ma get back to work after that, but yeah. I'ma definitely go to Vegas tomorrow and just let it out.
Do you go to Vegas a lot?
Eh, sometimes. Here and there. Mostly a lot of times lately I've been going for a lot of shows. I've been doing a lot of shows out there so I've been in Vegas for the last...almost like, three times in the one month. So, it's been great. Can't complain.
For somebody like you who's probably seen the craziest parties, would you designate Vegas as the top city for them?
Uh, yes. Yes, because anything that goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas. Yeah, evidently. That's the Sin City right there.
Have you ever been to the Mustang Ranch?
I've not heard of, what's it called? Mustang what?
It’s out near Reno and you like literally have a menu and you can order women.
Damn, I never heard of that. That sounds crazy.
Yeah, and there's like little cabins and you have a menu and you order girls.
Oh, okay! Yeah, I've heard of that ranch. Yeah, yep! That's an old ranch, yeah. I never been there though [laughs]. Nah. Nah. [laughs]
You've always said you're a producer before a rapper, but when creating something like “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” did you keep the beat in mind first?
Lyrics came first. That came first for me. I was thinking of that earlier that day. And then later on that day Mike Will, the producer, sent me the beats over. When I heard that beat, I wrote everything else from there because I was like, “This beat could go perfect with this idea I got!” I put them both together and boom! On a $100 microphone. It was just like, just randomly made and then a tweet went out and here we are!
And you recorded it in an apartment or something, right?
Yeah, a two-bedroom apartment out in D.C. My engineer came through and yeah, some small equipment, $100 microphone, and we just did it. We were drinking some champagne, beer, we was smoking out, and uh, yeah. Knocked it out.
So do bands really make her dance?
Yes they do! [laughs] Yes they do.
I'm sure you're no stranger to the strip clubs. What's your favorite one to go to?
I mean I've been to so many. I really like that K.O.D. in Miami, that's kind of one of my favorites right now. But I've been to so many. You know, I've been doing this for 20 years so I've been everywhere. I've been to strip clubs overseas, Amsterdam...I've been everywhere. So it's nothing, you know? I just have a good time when I go there.
What would you say is one of your favorite stories being at a strip club?
I can't remember most of them because I'm always drunk. You know what I'm saying? I can't remember most of them. It's been a lot of them. We'd have to sit down. I'd have to actually go through my history book of me doing shows, me being around. It's been a lot. I'd just have to sit and think. That's gonna take a bit. That's almost like six or seven paragraphs. [laughs]
How can you switch gears from parties to business so easily? A lot of people can't.
You're right, a lot of people can't, but I grew up from nothing to something, so I know what it feels like just being straight broke and no hopes, no nothing. So I just try to keep a grind and a steady hustle and I don't go back to that. Just because people make these amount of millions and all that...you can lose it all in one day! One or two mistakes and you can lose everything. I got to make sure my folks is good, my moms is good and stuff like that. So I got to make sure all my family is straight. It's not easy for a person to be turnt up one minute and then all of a sudden business, but I've been doing it so much all my life. Nobody ever really managed me until now. I never really had a manager back when I started back in the day until now. Because I've been so busy now so I got a manager, but back then I was doing mostly all the business myself. Doing my own taxes, doing all my own stuff.
Yeah, that's how I was. I'm a hustler; I consider myself a boss. I figure like, nobody could do it the way I could do it. I pay attention to everything that goes on in my account; I know everything. I'm sitting down with the accountants, I'm going over everything, I'm bringing out the calculators, I'm doing everything. It's just about business; you got to handle that business. At the end of the day, it's always about that business.
Wow, so even through the Oscars and all that? You managed yourself?
Yes, yes. Don't get me wrong, I consulted with a couple of management companies here and there but I mean it's always been myself. I always did it myself. It never was like…I wasn't in the room with the people when the deals were going down. I was always right there.
But I've always consulted with different people in my time like Chris Lighty, Todd Moscowitz. I've always consulted with different people. But as far as just myself, like my personal life, right there with the record companies and everything, boom! I've done it myself. So that's how I think.
Was it hard to surrender a certain level of power to another person?
I'm always there as well. I'm not the type of person that's going to be asleep and not know what the hell's going on with my career. Nah. I wouldn't have these millions in my account and be where I am now if I did something like that. So it's a blessing that when I came up as a youngin, I always wanted to know everything as it went down. I read music books when I was like 13. I read the whole line of music books from the royalties to the publishing to everything. I know everything about the music. I was reading books when I was 13, 14 just coming up. I was living in the hood, but I went to the library and I checked out music books. I just read that shit because I wanted to be in the music business. But I felt like, if I'm going to be in the music business, I got to know about the business. I knew I had talent; I was talented as fuck. I could DJ, I could make music, I could produce beats, I could rap. But I needed to know the business part. So I went to the library, checked out a bunch of books. Well I had my mom check me out books; I was young. I was 13. I had her check me out a bunch of books from the library and I just read almost like six or seven books. Then I would check the books back in, and I would check them back out for another two weeks just to read the same thing over and over again so I could understand it.
What would you say is one of the major screw-ups that artists face with their business?
Saving money. I mean like spend it, have a ball, kick it, but you always got to put something back for a rainy day. That goes for everybody. That goes for people even in the NBA, in entertainment period. I think as artists, as black artists, we need to understand business and put some of that money back for a rainy day. You go to a strip club to spend and you could spend it, but don't spend all of it! Don't live beyond your means. If you only got $100 in the bank, don't try to spend over $150! Maybe spend $25 to $30, or maybe $50! Don't spend the whole thing, because there's little things you got to pay for besides just enjoying yourself. You got to live, you know what I mean?
So have a strip club budget is what you're saying.
I mean for certain people that spend like they want to throw their whole check, you can do that. If you're more of a smarter person, you just go in there and you just throw what you feel like you can throw and then don't worry about the rest. And then when you re-up on some more money and you want to go in there and show out, show out! But make sure you put something back for a rainy day, Simple as that.
Would you ever own your own strip club?
It depends on the money. I never thought about going into the strip club business. But after “Bandz A Make Her Dance” came out… Like I said, it depends on the money. If the money was right, perfect location, perfect place, good people to deal with as far as doing the business within the clubs, some nice looking chicks. Got to have the baddest chicks in the world come through. I need to have chicks flown in from Russia, Germany, Brazil, as well as having chicks here in the States. It'd have to be some crazy shit. If I did it, it'd have to be something like a movie.
In this time period of being a solo artist, what would you say is one of your favorite memories so far?
My favorite memory. Uh, I got a bunch of them. Let me see. It was crazy. I went to Toronto, this is for my first time ever doing a show in Toronto and it was a solo show for me. I remember how that mixtape that I came out with, Blue Dream & Lean, how everybody was when I hit the stage, “Zip And A Double Cup” came on and the whole stadium just went super nuts. They went crazy. I was just kind of like…I was shocked. I did a couple of shows here and there, but it was like when I got up there it was so crazy. It was like the beginning of I would say the trippy movement, the beginning of my solo career. I really actually felt it. That was like, “Wow! I might have something. Something's going on right here! Something is buzzing!” At the time I was always in the studio and not really paying attention to what was going on in the outside world. I was just making music and tweeting stuff out and sending it out on the internet. But that's when I started getting a couple of calls for shows. I started doing solo shows. I went to Toronto and seen the reaction when I first walked on that stage; it was crazy.
It's like back in the day when Three 6 Mafia first started, and we had this song called “Tear The Club Up.” We went down to Atlanta and we performed it and everybody was looking like, “Eh, it's okay. It's alright.” Then we got another call. Like the song got hot and we went back down there and the whole club was just turnt UP! It was just crazy turnt up. I think I was about like 22 years old back then, 22 or 23. I was like, “What the fuck?” The song came on, and I was kind of nervous and I was like, “They really know this song!” I got that same feeling when I went on stage in Toronto and I did my solo show.
Do you think that there will be another Three 6 Mafia project?
Right now? No. I mean, who knows in the future? But right now, I'm just doing my album. Who knows what could happen in the future?