Music News & Reviews

Fans haven’t forgotten about Juicy J

“It’s going to be fun. I have a lot of surprises,” hip-hop artist Juicy J said about his tour.
“It’s going to be fun. I have a lot of surprises,” hip-hop artist Juicy J said about his tour.

Veteran hip-hop artist Juicy J enjoyed a major resurgence in his career, first when his 2012 album, “Stay Trippy,” produced a trio of hit singles, and then in 2014 when he did a guest spot on Katy Perry’s song “Dark Horse,” which topped “Billboard” magazine’s all-genre Hot 100 singles chart and was nominated for a Grammy.

After that, Juicy J’s momentum stalled, as singles came and went and he decided to shelve the album (“Pure THC: The Hustle Continues”) that was meant to be the follow-up to “Stay Trippy.” But recently there have been a few signs of life.

“TGOD Mafia: Rude Awakening,” the 2016 album Juicy J made with Wiz Khalifa and TM 88, opened at No. 2 on Billboard’s U.S. Rap album chart and No. 3 on the U.S. R&B chart. It seems that fans haven’t forgotten Juicy J.

And now Jordan Michael Houston (his real name) has another album, “Rubba Band Business,” ready for release and a tour under way that’s meant to coincide with the new album. He performs Wednesday, Feb. 1, in Sacramento with special guest Belly.

The slump he experienced didn’t happen for any lack of effort. Juicy J released three mixtapes leading up to “TGOD Mafia” and has dropped an additional pair of mixtapes since then. Had he come up with a successful advance single from “Pure THC,” that album would have been released as well.

“The singles that I put out didn’t pop like I wanted them to pop,” Juicy J said during a mid-January phone interview. “I just left it (the album) alone. I walked away from it. … I’ve still got a lot of those tracks. I don’t know, it may still see the light of day.”

Juicy J said the songs on a mixtape or album have to fit what is happening in his life at the time in order for him to release them. He moved on and made the trio of mixtapes – “Blue Dream & Lean 2,” “100% Juice” and “O’s To Oscars.” – that preceded the release of “TGOD Mafia.”

These latest releases add to a deep catalog of music Juicy J began building in 1995 as a founding member of Three 6 Mafia, a group that had a pair of platinum albums (2000’s “When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1” and 2005’s “Most Known Unknown”) before Juicy went solo in 2009.

After three years without much success, he released the original version of “Bandz A Make Her Dance” on Twitter in 2012, a track he recorded in an apartment in Washington, D.C., on a $100 microphone. The song immediately took off on the web and in clubs (especially strip clubs), and a month later, a new version of “Bandz” was recorded with guest spots from Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. That version led to a deal with Kemosabe/Columbia Records and the release of “Stay Trippy.”

“TGOD Mafia” grew out of a collaboration between Juicy J and TM88 after the latter artist had signed on with Juicy J’s publishing company.

“I was working on this for a long time,” Juicy J said. “I had everything together. Me and TM88, we had put together (the tracks). … I was like, ‘Why don’t we drop this as a mixtape?’ I called Wiz up to see if there were tracks he wanted to jump on, and he did verses. Then we were like, ‘This is sounding so good; it was like, ‘Man, let’s put this on iTunes.’ 

Juicy J hinted that “Rubba Band Business” will be different from “TGOD Mafia,” whose lyrics (mostly about making money, women and partying) are often set to understated-but-taut beats, with synthy hooks adding a bit of a pop element to the sound.

“The lyrics (on “Rubba Band Business”) are super crazy,” Juicy J said. “I’m doing some of my Three 6 Mafia flows. … A lot of people ain’t heard those flows, so I kind of brought that back.”

Juicy J said he’ll perform some of his newest songs along with the hits fans expect on his winter tour.

“It’s going to be fun. I have a lot of surprises.”

Juicy J: The Rubba Band Business Tour

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1

Where: Ace of Spades, 1417 R St., Sacramento

Cost: $39-$115

Information: 916-930-0220;