If Juicy J's career would've sputtered out after his group Three Six Mafia won their Oscar in 2006, his rap career still would've been applauded. The win was a definite highlight for Juice and the group, who haven't put out an album since 2008, but these days, the rapper/producer and purveyor of all things trippy has enjoyed a new life as rap's go-to pop guy.
He was the only feature on Katy Perry latest album Prism, — where he appears on the synthy and subdued "Dark Horse" — and he rapped alongside Miley Cyrus on Mike Will Made It's "23." In fact, this year alone Juice has collaborated with Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Ke$ha, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Cher Lloyd, will.i.am and Passion Pit — giving him a rap-pop that we typically associate with rappers like Jay Z and Kanye West.
"I put together — I guess — the right lyrics and the right metaphors and whatever people wanna hear," Juicy told MTV News via Skype on Wednesday. "I dunno, I just do me. I just go in the studio and do me and I think people might've been fans back in the day of my older stuff as well as my new stuff now. They just might like the swag or something."
But Juicy is no Johnny-come-lately. his relationship with Timberlake starts in their native Memphis, Tennessee, and dates back to JT's 2006 multiplatinum LP Future Sex/Love Sounds, where the rapper appeared on "Chop Me Up," along with his Three Six partner DJ Paul. Justin returned the favor this summer, lending vocals to "The Woods" off of Juice's solo LP Stay Trippy. "He told me he used to listen to a lot of our mixtapes, but his mom didn't want him playing it," Juicy told "RapFix Live" host Sway Calloway of their connection in May.
Miley's been a fan too. She caused a stir in June when she was filmed twerking onstage during Juice's "Bandz a Make Her Dance." While the music world was fascinated by Cyrus' gyrations, she was more hyped for her in-studio work with Juicy. "Right now all they really see of me and Juicy is me at his concert way too twerked up, they haven't seen what we can do when we're together. And when we're together it's this crazy kind of vibe because it's not what people would really expect," Miley told us in June of what would eventually become Mike Will's "23" single.
And when MTV News caught up with Juice last month, he still seemed in shock over his collaboration with in Justin Bieber on Maejor Ali's "Lolly." "Man, real talk, it's like a dream, man," Juicy told MTV News in September of all of his recent success. "A dream that I ain't woke up [from] yet. Everything is going so great. I can't complain."
Don't let Juicy's pop success fool you though; he is just as respected among the true school rap contingent. After linking with Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang in 2011, Juicy, who was already a fixture on the underground mixtape scene, saw his stock rise once again. B.o.B, Fat Joe, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean and Lil Wayne tapped the veteran for features and production. "Juicy J beats are dark and I never rapped on dark music like that," Lil Wayne explained of the Three Six Mafia veteran's sonic production style.
Juicy J is having quite the moment, and he made it clear to us that he has no plans on slowing down any time soon.
"I would love to work with Adele," he said wishfully thinking. "I think that will be very interesting, I think that'll be a motion picture movie. They'll have to premiere that on NBC as well as MTV. MTV, NBC, ABC, like all the stations Almost like the super bowl, everybody will be watching to see what that would sound like."