Review Summary: Stay Trippy, my friends
Trying to prescribe any additional significance to Juicy J’s music is a futile exercise, grasping at straws hoping lines like “backstage/naked ladies/poppin pills and swallowin babies” from opener “Stop It” are worth anything more than they seem. Of course there isn’t anything extra behind Juicy’s lines. He has found a way to reduce rap to its barest bones: Stay Trippy
is a 16 song monument to life’s vices- marijuana, promiscuity, lean, murder and strip clubs are all celebrated with astonishing bluntness. Any fear that Stay Trippy
would present a watered-down version of Juicy J due to its official label endorsement should be set aside.
Although his lyricism is predictable as ever, Juicy is still able to throw a few curveballs. Rather than stick with just Lex Luger, whom he collaborated with extensively on Rubba Band Business 2
, producer credit bounces from Young Chop to Mike Will Made It to Timbaland, who brings muse and Memphis connection Justin Timberlake along with him on “The Woods.” The eclectic mix of guest stars, including deceased UGK member Pimp C, and some creative sampling- check for The Weeknd’s “High for This” on “Smokin Rollin”- keeps Stay Trippy from growing boring. Similarly, the regional diversity of these associates has Juicy interpreting a number of different styles with his distinct southern spin. Thus, Juicy is able to stay in his lyrical wheelhouse and still oversee a sonically diverse album, a great achievement.
This stylistic stamp is what defines the album. Juicy J has a penchant for writing pervasive hooks, always delivered in his matter-of-fact deadpan that lodges in your brain regardless of their quality. The one-liners are top-notch too- “Blowin loud, Juicy J be higher than the gas price”- but hooks like the one on club anthem “Scholarship,” a song best enjoyed at high volume- like most of the album, really- are textbook examples of earworms. Easily digestible, often funny and more often ridiculous, Juicy J has perfected the art of writing the four bar chorus. In this same vein, repetition abounds on Stay Trippy
: callbacks to classics “Zip and a Double Cup” and “Juicy J Can’t,” references to paraphernalia as “trippy” and reminders of his apparently immense wealth flow through the album with the ease of lean pouring from his styrofoam goblet.
Shockingly, those lines aren’t distracting- in fact, they seem to reinforce the feeling that Juicy J is in on the joke- this word selected intentionally: the way he repeats lyrical motifs from older songs creates a sort of ‘inside joke’ on the album; new fans hooked on “Bandz a Make Her Dance” won’t understand their significance. He legitimately sounds like he enjoys performing, his vocals betraying something akin to a smirk; as if relishing in the ability to release songs like “All I Blow is Loud”. The fact is nobody else could replace Juicy from the niche he has carved out for himself. It’s an awkward region, party anthems with southern trap underpinnings, but is glued together by Juicy J’s charisma. With an easy delivery and a great voice, there’s a reason he has enjoyed more success post-Three 6 Mafia than his former cronies and why his descriptions of gangster activity sound appealing rather than intimidating.
This isn’t music that’s going to win any awards or show up on end-of-year lists as an exemplary example of what 2013 had to offer, but, when taken at face-value, it’s brilliant in its own right. Juicy J embodies his persona, and even released the album stream with an interactive game which played more songs as you threw money on strippers, and his chameleonic presence allows each guest star to simultaneously influence the sound and complement his style. Perhaps what’s most refreshing about Stay Trippy
is how every performer brings his best material to the table. Wiz Khalifa turns in two extremely solid verses, Yelawolf sounds like he was born to rap over the “Gun and a Mask” beat and Lil Wayne, although he sounds bored, throws down some engaging lines on “Bandz a Make Her Dance”.
However, nobody sounds hungrier than the veteran himself. Despite being “rich since the 80s” and having 20 years in the game under his belt, Juicy J attacks each track like it’s his debut album. In the last 12 months, we’ve seen the balance of power shift from the old guard of hip-hop back to the young guns. Between underwhelming releases from Jay-Z and Kanye West and a delay pushing Pusha T’s album into a fall release slot dealt a huge blow to the established order. Meanwhile, Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid m.a.a.d. City
and “Control” verse that shook the world made him the alpha dog with J. Cole and A$AP Rocky chomping at his heels after each releasing well-received material. By sticking to his guns, Juicy J proves he is still a threat to the up-and-comers and why he has been able to remain in the public consciousness even after the split of Triple Six. He may not be innovating, but that’s not necessary, he’s safe in his habitat, making music his way, and we’re the better for it.