Memphis rap legends Three 6 Mafia enjoy their stardom, to say the least. Two certified platinum records, several more gold plaques, and an Oscar have made Juicy J and DJ Paul recognizable celebrities on the level of a Snoop Dogg or Ice-T — famous for being famous, and for their outsized personalities. This summer they’re making their second foray into reality TV with Famous Food (Sundays at 10 on VH1), in which fellow celebs compete to turn around a struggling restaurant and become part owners.
Though seeking more exposure and new audiences, the two remaining original members of the hardcore collective still maintain the loyalty and respect of rap die-hards by continuing to release and support rock-hard gangster rap. They recently dropped solo mixtapes, Juicy J’s Rubba Band Business 2 and DJ Paul’s Pray For Forgiveness, that are exhilarating romps in uncompromising hood talk, the same bluntness and mean mugs that have made listeners throw elbows since 1995’s Mystic Stylez.
SSG Music caught up with Juicy J and DJ Paul to discuss drama on Famous Food, working with up-and-coming producers on their solo tapes, and what they have in store as the combined powerhouse that is Three 6 Mafia.
First off, it’s an honor to be talking with you both. I caught the first episode of Famous Food on Sunday – how did you get involved with the show?
DJ Paul: We into cooking man. We’re real big foodies, and we always wanted to own a restaurant but never had the time to take out to do it. [Music]’s a 24-hour job. We did a little scissor reel of a cooking show a few years back and shot a pilot of it for VH1. It ended up not getting picked up because they felt it wasn’t right for them at the time. They wanted to still do something with us so they called and asked us back a few months later for Famous Food.
What are your specialties in cooking? What do each of you do best?
P: My favorite would be Chinese and Thai. I’m a big noodle fan so I love to cook chow meins and spicy thai noodles and different sh*t like that.
Juicy J: Man, I’m just the guy who handles the business and does the drinkin’.
P: He’s the bartender.
J: Yeah, I’m the bartender. But somebody’s gotta be counting the money at the door handling the business.
P: We’ll come down and cater your party. [laughs]
J: Yeah, and whatever you need I got you man. Holler at me.
You guys are the Drama Kings, but judging from the first episode it looks like there might be other cast members challenging you for the crown. Who was the most dramatic person to work with on the show?
P: Danielle [Staub, of The Real Housewives of New Jersey]. Danielle is the Drama Queen, she’ll tell you that. She got into at least 3 or 4 fights a day on the show. Minimum.
I’m sure you were ready for some scraps though. I’ve really been digging your solo mixtapes over the past few months, really hard stuff. How do you balance that sort of artistic output with being on a restaurant show on VH1, that tough streetwise persona on the albums with something a little bit different for reality TV?
J: At the end of the day we street n*ggas man. It is what it is. We do it like we do it and that’s it. You see us on a reality show trying to work and build a restaurant, you’ll see that. You hear us on a mixtape, you’ll hear that. We grindin’. It really ain’t no different, it’s how we are. We’re business hood dudes.
P: If you got your head on straight and you keep it real – a lot of people don’t want to show their real side, like they scared people gon’ be judging them or something. But if you’re a business man, you can still keep it street and be from the hood and still do other things and be successful in a whole ‘nother genre. A perfect example is Ice Cube.
J: You just gotta keep it real. You gotta keep it 100. Don’t try to be something you ain’t. Three 6 Mafia, we’ve just been ourselves. We talked about what we talked about in the songs, we did what we did, and we feel the same way. We ain’t never changed. People can say what they want to say but this is how we is. I crack jokes and I’ll kick your ass if someone’s done some sh*t to me. We don’t change in front of the camera, we don’t change on the record, you feel me?
I definitely do, and I think that’s why people are so dedicated to your music. Rubba Band Business and Pray For Forgiveness are uncompromising projects. On those mixtapes you worked with some young producers, specifically Lex Luger and Lil Lody, and yet you both are very successful producers yourselves. What advice did you give the young cats while you were collaborating?
P: Really, they doing what they doing. We just talked a lot about the music business. Today, I think with us being the godfathers in the game, it’s good to reach out and help somebody out, give them some good advice, even just work with somebody. Especially those talented up-and-coming new producers that’s doing it right now. There’s a bunch of them: Lil Lody, Lex Luger, Sonic Digital, Young Ced, Your Boy Black. There’s a lot of them out here man. We work with a lot of producers and it’s good to do some original Three 6 Mafia with a touch of the new stuff and create something different.
Speaking of Three 6, I hear you have a new project in the works.
P: We’re trying to bring that out by the end of the year. New Project Pat album drops next week. Everyone know how Pat do it – he’s a gangsta, man. Three 6 Mafia will be that original sound with a twist of the new on it. We’ve got tours coming up – Australia, Canada.
J: I’ve got a CD coming out with Lex Luger, Rubba Band Business 3, gonna put out an album on it. New Lil Wyte album — we’re still working the independent game, putting out music from independent artists. This other group we just released called SNO. We’re still signed to a major label and we’re working that. It feels good, God is good. We’re still out here scoopin’ up some of these little young independents out here man. [laughs] Only 25 and up.
Follow Three 6 Mafia on Twitter @therealjuicyj and @DJPAULKOM