Three 6 Mafia’s performance of best original song Academy Award nominee “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” on Sunday’s (March 5) Oscar telecast will mark the first time a rap song has been performed at the event. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” from the 2002 movie “8 Mile,” won the best song statuette the following year, but the rapper declined to perform at the ceremony.
“Hip-hop is here to stay,” Three 6 Mafia’s Jordan “Juicy J” Houston tells Billboard. “It’s in clothes, perfumes, rims, cars. Everything is hip-hop now.”
Houston, together with fellow member Paul “DJ Paul” Beauregard and Cedric “Frayser Boy” Coleman (an artist on the Hypnotize Minds label), co-wrote the music and lyrics for “Pimp.” The song, a centerpiece of the movie “Hustle & Flow,” was performed in the film and on the soundtrack by the movie’s main character, pimp-turned-rapper Djay. The role was played by best actor nominee Terrence Howard.
Joining Houston, Beauregard and Coleman onstage will be another group member, Darnell “Crunchy Black” Carlton, and actress Taraji P. Henson, who sings the song’s hook in “Hustle & Flow.”
Although some of the song’s more colorful language will be altered, Houston does not see the changes as a cop-out. “We’ve done a lot of clean shows in the past on BET and MTV,” he says. “We’re not trying to make everyone upset. We just want to put on a good performance, letting everyone know rappers aren’t bad. We know how to keep it business and still have fun.”
Houston notes the nomination has resulted in several potential deals to write for other movies. He adds that Three 6 Mafia is working on a new album by Project Pat (Houston’s brother Patrick) as well as the group’s next album, both of which are due this year.
While most predict Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Thru” from “Transamerica” will claim best song, Houston is not fazed by the forecast. “We haven’t thought about winning or losing,” he offers. “Being nominated and also performing, we’ve already won.”
However, there remains an even deeper bottom line for Houston. “This is big for hip-hop, but we’re also representing for the black community, letting kids know you can do something positive and make it bigger than life.”