Label: Taylor Gang, Kemosabe, Columbia
In the opening seconds of his third solo album Stay Trippy, Juicy J says, "I'ma tell you broke niggas something, listen..." Everyone should listen along. What they'll hear is a nearly-40-year-old rapper who is as reckless a hedonist as he is a savvy veteran. Just look at the way he coaxes first rate performances from Justin Timberlake (must be a Memphis thing), Yelawolf, and even Wiz Khalifa on his long delayed solo album. Or how he'd rather wax poetic about smoking wax (the hot new way to inhale insane amounts of THC, just ask Action Bronson) on "Wax" instead of boring us with another played out molly song. Or how he's wise enough to stick to the script, making the album essentially a polished version (props to executive producer Dr. Luke) of mixtapes like Rubba Band Business 2, which renewed interest in his career.
That mixtape featured the now classic "Zip and A Double Cup" which set the template for his revival, a revival that became a reality when "Bandz A Make Her Dance" became a crossover hit—probably why both songs are mentioned numerous times throughout the album. Juicy has crawled back to relevancy, mostly by just hanging out newcomers who grew up idolizing him (Lex Luger, Wiz Khalifa), the equivalent of sipping a double cup from the fountain of youth. Along the way, he found a new formula that worked and stuck to it, sort of like the way he finds simple phrases and perfects them into hooks, "A gun plus a mask, that equals cash," he says on "Gun Plus a Mask."
Armed with an endless barrage of rattling beats, and a host of just-so-over-the-top-ridiculous-you-have-to-laugh punchlines ("She treat my dick like a pistol/I treat her face like a target"), and enough believable gangsta talk to separate himself from the good kids of today's rap scene, Stay Trippy is the perfect explanation for why Juicy has been rich since the '90s. —Insanul Ahmed