Juicy J is a legendary rapper/producer from Memphis, Tennessee. Since his emergence with Three 6 Mafia in the mid-90s, the Southern hip hop pioneer has earned all-time great status with his solid output year after year. Last weekend, the 45-year-old released his sixth studio album, THE HUSTLE CONTINUES. With features from A$AP Rocky, Conway the Machine, Logic, and more, can Juicy J bring together these a-list names for one cohesive body of work?
While there’s no overlying narrative or force throughout the LP, a veteran Juicy J shows he still has the ability to let loose and turn up with some of hip hop’s most prominent stars. Whether he’s chilling with Wiz Khalifa and Lex Luger on the stoner anthem “GAH DAMN HIGH” or blowing money recklessly with Lil Baby and 2 Chainz on “SPEND IT”, it’s clear the Southern pioneer is still one of the games top collaborators. Building on this, Juicy’s skill range is honestly mind-boggling as the trap banger with NLE Choppa, “LOAD IT UP” sounds just as natural as the lyrically menacing collaboration with Griselda’s Conway, “KILLA”. Darkening the tone, J’s grilling chemistry with Key Glock and Young Dolph on “THAT’S THE WAY IT GOES” and “SHOPPING SPREE” respectively give off atmospheres reminiscent to his prime Three 6 Mafia days. On the note of the Mafia, one of the record’s most memorable moments comes from the reunion between Juice and his brother Project Pat where they link up with Top Dawg Entertainment’s Jay Rock for the horror-crunk ballad “MEMPHIS TO LA”. Through all these worlds colliding, the only sections that felt unnecessary were Megan Thee Stallion and Ty Dolla $ign’s tone-destroying “SHE GON POP IT” and Logic’s off-putting “SHAWTY BAD”. Fortunately, the now-retired Logic’s services aren’t completely wasted as him and Juicy’s introspective “1995” makes for the records emotional climax. Out of all songs, the ultimate highpoint is “PO UP”, where J teams up with frequent collaborator A$AP Rocky for a bittersweet memorial honoring some of the culture’s biggest recent losses. With a fairly long list of collaborations that offer a perfect blend of depth and fun, the only other factor left to judge is Juicy’s solo performances. In this regard, THE HUSTLE CONTINUES falls flat as every song from “BEST GROUP” to “I CAN’T STOP” lacks creativity and diversity. Despite its shortcomings, Juicy J’s once in a lifetime collaborations make for an unforgettable ride that no other rapper can curate.
Sonically, Juicy J’s self-produced soundtrack shows off the array of his skills that have made him so renowned over the years. For the most part, most of the songs contain trap instrumentals, but with Juicy’s artistic vision, these aren’t your run of the mill low budget scores. Seen on “GAH DAMN HIGH” and “IN A MIN”, Juicy builds up his beats with climatic background vocals, eerie samples, and well-faceted drum patterns. Although this formula can get a little to saturated at points like “SHAWTY BAD” and “SPEND IT”, it doesn’t hurt the experience too much. In addition to engineering club hits, Juicy J composes some of the best soul sampled instrumentals of his career. With the angelic “1995” and “WHAT I NEED”, the veteran beat-maker continues to display his craftiness as his polar opposite sounding styles culminate into one journey seamlessly. For the rest of the record, the main style used takes fans back to the horrorcore sound of the one and only Mystic Stylez. With the mellow piano and shaking organ on “KILLA”, the scratches and Friday the 13th like keyboard patterns on “THAT’S THE WAY IT GOES” and “SHOPPING SPREE”, die-hard fans of the icon will jump out of their seats in appreciation remembering this once prominent era. With the only real complaint coming from his overly stated annoying production tag, the soundscape of The Hustle Continues is a testimony to Juicy J’s spot amongst the production greats.
In conclusion, The Hustle Continues is another solid addition to Juicy J’s discography. While it doesn’t elevate his place on the all-time great list, Juicy’s current relevance will surely rise due to the handful of well-sculpted bangers he’s given us. As we advance, I think Juicy J has reached an unclimbable wall when it comes to making good albums, but for making charting songs that bring the best out of the game’s hottest artists, the near 30-year veteran is perfect in that role.
- Excellent collaborations
- Juicy J’s versatility is nearly unmatched
- Well put together soundtrack
- Lacks creativity
- Solo tracks are boring
- Slightly bloated