Juicy J Breaks Down 'Rubba Band Business' Album and His Key to Longevity

Juicy J
Courtesy of Columbia Records

Juicy J

"Some people be stuck back in time, in their prime, in their moment, but I always move forward."

After co-founding Memphis' prolific group Three 6 Mafia in 1991, Jordan Michael Houston's lifespan in hip-hop has extended time and time again. With over 20 years in the rap game, Juicy J's nose for sniffing out budding talent and penchant for sculpting club bangers has him penciled in as a lionized artist in rap. 

Earlier this month, Juicy added an extra chapter to his storybook career by piecing together his latest offering, Rubba Band Business: The Album. Playing off his heralded mixtape series Rubba Band Business -- which was produced by Lex Luger -- Juicy sticks to the script and feeds the streets with a myriad of bangers with some of today's youngest and brightest stars. First, he partners with his frequent collaborator Wiz Khalifa on the club driven track "Too Many," before scouting for the hottest girls with Tory Lanez and Belly on "On and On." 

Though Juicy enjoys hitting the studio with his homies, he's currently more focused on helping rising acts succeed. With an army of producers under his Mo' Faces imprint (through Interscope Records), Juicy is ready to watch his team flourish under his tutelage. Billboard spoke to the veteran about his new album Rubba Band Business, working with Wiz Khalifa and A$AP Rocky, and why he's eager to pass the torch to upcoming talent. Check out our interview below. 

What was the approach you took with Rubba Band Business: The Album that’s different from your acclaimed mixtape series or did you follow the same formula?

Man, I just followed the same formula. I feel like if something ain’t broke, you don’t fix it. I’m gonna give the fans what they want, so I’m giving them what they want. I have a couple of different flows on there. But it’s gonna be the same Rubba Band Business that people love, that was banging in the clubs and stuff like that.

You have Wiz on two tracks for the album ("Too Many" and "Ain't Nothing"). What makes the chemistry between you and Wiz so special and unique when you guys are in the studio?

Man, he just like me. He’s a hard worker. He works day and night in the studio, and I work day and night in the studio. The vibes, man -- just crazy. We knock out so many records. We’d do two or three records a day at a time and still do that. I can’t even explain it. Every time we hit the studio, we always create -- more than one song. We create so many songs. We’ve created so many songs together that ain’t ever been released. We probably got 50 songs unreleased.

I know you guys have a thing with doing heavy collaborations. Might as well just let all of them go at this point.

I might, I might. Never know, man. We got a lot of stuff coming.

What’s the formula for you in staying so tune with the rap game especially after being in the game for so many years?

Man, I love music. I looked up to producers like Barry White and Isaac Hayes. You know, I was about those guys. Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, looking at those guys, how they came up, looking at all those guys I feel like I’m one of those guys. I’m one of those legendary guys just like them. I’ll never go anywhere. I love music. I love making music and working with different producers and getting the rappers and stuff like that. I signed TM88 to my company, you know? It’s been successful. He produced "XO Tour Llif3," which sold over four million copies.

And I got some other producers I’m working with right now. I got YK 808, I got Deedotwill, I got other up-and-coming artists. I stay working with different people. I like overlapping and vibing with different producers, and that’s just how I’ve always been, man. Even when I was with Three 6 Mafia. I used to always just search for new talent and work with new talented people. I just think that’s what it is. I love making music. I don’t like to stay in the same place -- I’m not that type of person. But I still keep my roots. I still keep my sound.

I’m executive producing Suicideboys. I’m executive producing their new album. I’m doing a lot of that. Me and A$AP Rocky got a lot of great records we got coming out. I just stay busy, man. I just adapt with times. That’s just who I am. I move forward. Even working in the studio, the equipment changes. The mixing boards -- people used to make their beats on MPCs and W30s and SP100s. Now, people are making beats on computers. 

I always adapt to everything that’s going on. If a new iPhone 8 is coming out, I gotta get it. If a new computer is coming out, I gotta get. Everything that’s new. I don’t live in the past. I just don’t. I still have my sound. I still have my flow. Everything sounds like the stuff that I created from back in the ‘90s. All the flows, I created all of that. I created everything. Everything you hear on the radio, it’s the Three 6 sound so I keep that sound but I still stay relevant. I don’t dwell in the past. My mind is not in the ‘90s, even though I’m a bigger star in the ‘90s -- I’m not in the ‘90s. Some people be stuck back in time, in their prime, in their moment, but I always move forward. A lot of people ask me that. I just move forward.

With you now taking a business approach, what are some of the things you learned as an artist that you make sure not to let happen to your own artists or the people you’re working with?

Well, you know back in the day I started Hypnotize Minds. Hypnotize Minds was hip-hop’s label back in the day. And so I always had my own label and always managed Three 6 Mafia. I was an artist, manager, a producer, songwriter, all that. We did all our stuff ourselves. So, it was like, I’ve been doing this since I started so it’s not like really hard for me. Back then, we had a lot of artists in the ‘90s. We had like Hypnotize Minds kind of posse. It just naturally comes to me. I know how to work with artists. I know what it takes to promote an artist.

I feel like these days most artists should probably stay independent because it’s best to do it on your own because you know what you want to do, you got your own fan base, just keep it like you got it. You don’t have to sign to a major whatever. You can just keep all the money in the house. Keep everything in-house, you know what I’m sayin’? Get your website guy, get your own guy to work your Instagram, SnapChat, your SoundCloud.

I know about all that. Radio promotion. So I already know about that, so what I’m doing now -- I’m a third CEO of Taylor Gang. And I have my own record label, Mo’ Faces, which I just did a deal with Interscope. I’m trying to expand my business. I got a bond company. I’m working with Colt 45. I’m an ambassador for Colt 45. So I’m just trying to expand my business and make it bigger and teach these young cats how to save their money, pay their taxes and just stuff that, when I was coming up, nobody was telling me how to do.

But like coming up in the ‘90s, it was kind of different. Now I’m just passing the torch to these younger guys -- younger producers, artists, whatever. Just letting them know, ‘You can do this on your own. You can promote yourself. The internet is free.’ The internet gives a way to promote now with SoundCloud. You can do your own videos now. You can shoot videos on an iPhone! For real. Kind of like a coach now. Just spreading the love and spreading the knowledge, so we can keep this hip-hop movement moving.

Taking the big homie approach.

That’s what I’m here for. I feel like I was blessed, man, so we try to bless somebody, and they don’t have to be signed. Everybody I work with don’t have to be signed. I feel good helping somebody. That’s what it’s all about, helping people. We won’t be on this Earth long, so it’s best just to [give] people knowledge and help people come up. In the music game we got blessed to do with our God given talent, so we got to pass the torch to another young person coming up and give them knowledge. When they get to this point, they’ll do the same. Hopefully.

You and Belly went on tour together, did a couple of tracks, and he’s on the new album. Have you guys thoughts about collaborating on a mixtape or EP?

We talk about that. Belly’s my brother, man. The whole XO family. That’s my family. Most definitely, man. Belly is super talented. He’s a really seasoned musician. He’s a songwriter. That dude got so much talent.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Dec. 23 issue of Billboard.