Stay Trippy is what celebrating a win feels like
Somewhere in America, a shaded (and faded) Jordan Houston is reclined in the crevice of a strip club counting his stacks, sipping on a double cup and nodding to his booming backdrop music with a smirk. It's been one hell of a year for Juicy J, and he's jogging the last leg of a victory lap that seemingly came out of nowhere. The 39-year-old ball of charisma first made a name for himself with the group Three 6 Mafia, who birthed hits "Tear Da Club Up," "Sippin' on Some Syrup" and the Academy Award-winning "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" at their prime. But when Columbia Records shelved the Memphis collective post-Last 2 Walk (2009), things got relatively quiet for Juicy. Then came 2012. At the hands of wunderkind producer Mike Will Made It, Juicy's unexpected smash hit and first single "Bandz A Make Her Dance" became a defibrillator, giving a pulse to a music career that most assumed died with Three 6.
It's been an upward spiral from there. How's a man living the rockstar life to react? Why, party harder, of course! "Bandz"—which cracked a top 40 spot on the Billboard Hot 100—escorted an eager Juicy J back into the limelight as a soloist, and just like old times, he's brought his AA intervention-boasting habits with him. Juicy J’s Stay Trippy celebrates his Mama-I-Made-It moment hundredfold, using the vices that brought him here as a medium.
Juicy has grown up a lot since his last solo effort, or rather grown richer. Whereas Hustle Till I Die (2009) was an exhausting catalogue of unimaginative posturing and empty threats, Stay Trippy is audibly influenced by the flair and frills of luxury that’ve since become his norm. Twenty years is a long time to be in the game (he'll remind you of this numerical tidbit for at least half of the album) and he's proud of his newly verified longevity. Imagine just how much living he's done to make up for lost time. His YOLOism is vividly reflected in his third solo release, which is equal parts hood rich, flossy and overindulgent, and is glorious in all its ratch. From the album cover alone—a gleeful and paint splattered J clutches a champagne bottle as a babe clutches onto him—you know you're in for a good time.
Staying true to his well-evidenced Hedonist nature (remember, you say no to ratchet p*ssy, Juicy J can't), he makes sure to pour his pleasures on you like a shaken bottle of bubbly. Guap, the trap, drugs and freaky women are Stay Trippy's center of gravity. “Living like a rock star/I’ve never been sober bruh,” he boasts on “Smoke Rollin'” over the dizzy, warbly emoting of Weeknd's “High For This.” He tells no lies here. There isn't a sober moment on Trippy, as all the usual culprits—codeine, lean, molly, kush, crack, Xanax—are heavily weeded throughout 16 tracks. The chipmunk soul-esque “Wax” (which samples Freda Payne's "I Get High [On Your Memory]") wastes no time in telling you that Juicy wants us to get on his level. “Let's get high, let's get stoned/Take a hit of this and you won't make it home,” he raps.
Aside from a lack of sobriety and the cash necessary to pay for such inducers, a staple in the lives of the rich and famous are the women, most of whom will only be partially clothed. "Your baby mama is not a 10 but when I'm drunk she close enough," he confesses on album kicker "If I Ain't." To thoroughly enjoy Stay Trippy, it’s imperative that valid ideologies such as feminism and misogyny get tossed out the window, although it's a tough task when statements like "She treat my dick like a pistol/I treat her face like a target" and "I can turn a church girl into a stone cold slut" ("So Much Money" and "Money A Do It," respectively) exist within the mix.
Never mind Juicy J's chanty, sometimes seesaw 2+2=4 flow and self-described "short bus" swag (not sure if this should even be functioning as a compliment). While the album may catch a bit of flack for a lack of topical diversity and its lyrical simplicity, Juicy J and Three 6 Mafia devotees will find pleasure in its sonics. The album's strengths lie in Juicy's ability to harness the enhancing powers of a feature. Stay Trippy—whose executive producers are pop mastermind Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and Taylor Gang maestro Wiz Khalifa—has a crowded guest list. Aside from habitual hit maker Mike WiLL Made It, producers Lex Luger, Young Chop, Timbaland, The Weeknd, and Danny Boy lend their services. His all-star guest roster merges Wale, Pimp C, Trey Songz, Yelawolf, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Young Jeezy, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky and his brother Project Pat. Despite the wild assortment of flows and flavors, Juicy J manages to avoid being eclipsed on his own project (ahem, Big Sean). Their presence only amplifies the quality of his offering, a hypothesis that is reinforced by three of the album's standout pieces.
Young Jeezy and Big Sean join Juicy on the menacing "Show Out," another item in Mike WiLL's portfolio. The second single sounds its best played at window-rattling, Meek Mill decibels, allowing the pulsing bass to disturb school crossing zones. Stay Trippy's most jazzy collaboration is track 10, where one of the best reps of blue-eyed soul takes us into "The Woods." Justin Timberlake seems to borrow the concept of lovemaking in the wild from Frank Ocean's "Nature Feels." Timbaland's smooth, nimble handiwork and built-in interludes make the cut seem like it would fit just as well on a JT disc. Harlem's own pretty muthafucka A$AP Rocky adds some finesse to the album's latter half on "Scholarship," where he and Juicy encourage budding scholars to twerk for their college funds. The song even prompted a brief campaign to find the best-qualified award recipient (Smh).
Whether his songs are inappropriate or not, they're infectious enough to have any girl convinced she's the third member of Atlanta’s notorious short-short donning Twerk Team. It's all in good fun. Besides, it's going to be hard to rain on Juicy J's parade. His recent success is well earned and he's proud of the party life that's gotten him this far. "I told 'em Bandz a Make Her Dance and turned my head, that shit charted," he raps. Charted he did. Celebrate he will. —Stacy-Ann Ellis (@stassi_x)