November 13, 2008

Speak of the devil! Mafia makes an album you can't refuse

Three 6 Mafia have been called Satan-worshippers and misogynists (“Slob on My Knob,” anyone?), but fans know they’re just giving their growing audience what they want: entertainment. Now the horrorcore-turned-mainstream Dirty South rap group is touring the country with their new album Last 2 Walk featuring the single “Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body),” and they’re stopping off at Congress this Friday. Recently, the group has been whittled back down to its founding members, “DJ Paul” Beauregard and Jordan “Juicy J” Houston, who were the recipients of hip-hop’s first Academy Award for Best Song. Juicy J talked to me about the new album, which he guarantees we’ll all love.

Madelyn Freed: Hello, Mr. Houston. Well, what should I call you?

Juicy J: You can call me J.

MF: Have you ever performed in Chicago before?

JJ: Yeah. Lots of times. I love Chicago. I love Chicago. The other member of the group has family in Chicago.

MF: Where have you been doing since the album came out?

JJ: We’ve been on the road. We’ve been out for a couple weeks right now. We’re gonna jump around—we’re in Chicago, then we’re heading to Louisiana and we have some more shows after that so that’s it.

MF: Tell me about the new album. Is there a new sound, new fan response?

JJ: I mean, it’s straight ghetto music, you know what I’m saying, club music. It’s what we’ve been doing for the past 15 years in the business, and it’s pretty much the same. We’re trying to give everyone the same what they’re used to hearing. And that’s what it is. But I mean it’s a good album, we worked hard on it. You’ll love it.

MF: Do you have a favorite song to perform?

JJ: I love all the songs, you know. All the songs. I never get tired of performing. I love performing—I enjoy it, you know. I love to do it.

MF: The band’s been cut down since the start—what’s it like only having two members, you and DJ Paul?

JJ: Yes, only two people in the group, you know we started with more, then a lot of members left ’cause they thought they could make it out on their own, and you know we’re down to two guys. We’re the two producers; we’re the two guys that have been writing all the music and producing all the tracks and managing the group and pretty much doing everything. So it’s better like it is right now, means more money for us, and it’s good. It means we don’t need to be getting anybody up in the morning on time, we know about the business. We have a business and we execute it. So you know it’s all good. It’s more manageable now it’s down to two members.

MF: You went from an underground group into the mainstream. Did you see a change in material? Any censorship?

JJ: No, it’s the same old stuff. Same old stuff. It’s entertainment. You know, people want to be entertained. I’m not gonna hold back words. I don’t feel I have to hold anything back, you know—it’s entertainment and you will be entertained.

MF: The rap music industry is known for its rivalries, and your group has had their fair share. Do you think there should be more cooperation?

JJ: I think there should be more cooperation, yes. I think its best for all rappers to try to stick together and work together to keep the hip-hop movement ahead. You know, but hey, sometimes people can work together and sometimes people can’t. I’m more about working with other rappers or singers or whatever just to, you know, keep some money in my pocket. But you know the movement’s expanding. They have hip-hop in movies now, hip-hop in clothing lines, hip-hop in cologne—everything. Every time you turn the TV you hear a rap song playing in the background. You see rap stars on TV, acting or producing movies and doing all kinds of stuff. It’s getting into everything. It’s growing. It’s getting bigger and bigger every day. I say stay positive. Keep it moving.

MF: You’re the first hip-hop group to win an Oscar for Best Song. How has that changed your life, or your music?

JJ: It’s a huge blessing. Everything’s changed you know, we got a bigger fan base, more people know who we are, it’s changed for the better. We were selling CDs out the back of our truck for years. We were an underground rap group that didn’t have any kind of recognition. It’s a huge blessing, and so, here we are. Now we’re the Academy Award winners Three 6 Mafia. I mean, you know, that’s a blessing, man. I feel like, even today, I’m dreaming. I have to pinch myself to make sure, but it’s real. It’s real. But it’s so big. It’s the biggest thing to ever happen to us.

MF: Do you enjoy performing in Memphis, your hometown, the most?

JJ: I enjoy performing anywhere, everywhere. I love seeing people get crunk to our music.

MF: Some people are angry at what they think are satanic elements to your early music. Can you comment?

JJ: People have been watching crazy movies. There’s nothing satanic on there. I mean I’m a Christian, not a devil worshipper. We can mop that up right now. If you don’t want to listen to it, then don’t buy it, and if you do want to listen to it, buy it. When you come to the concert and see us perform, if you see Three 6 Mafia perform, you might say, “All right man, this isn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be—it’s like a party.” We get on stage and it’s like a party. You know what I’m saying—we take shots, we jump off stage, we bring ladies on stage, we kick it. No devil worship crap. That’s just some rumor.