Juicy J is one of the founding members of the legendary 'Memphis Rap' group Three 6 Mafia (Triple Six Mafia). Memphis Rap is known for its dark messaging, often showcasing themes of nihilism, occult, and violence. Its rise is synonymous with other genres, like horrorcore, known for similar subject matter. One of the band's most critically acclaimed hit records is titled, 'Mystic Stylez,' is tagged on Rate Your Music as the following:
crime, satanic, dark, violence, lo-fi, drugs, nocturnal, sexual, raw, aggressive, paranormal, ominous, atmospheric, male vocals, female vocals, occult, sampling, urban, hypnotic, nihilistic, scary, boastful, vulgar, disturbing, misanthropic, death, repetitive, infernal, rhythmic, Halloween, hedonistic, mysterious, psychedelic, cold, lethargic, manic, rebellious, surreal, existential, pessimistic.
Before writing off Memphis Rap as a 'satanic' or 'evil' style of music, it's essential to understand the context of the music being presented.
Much of Memphis Rap and Horrorcore are by-products of the immense systemic suffering that afflicted African Americans in ghettos during the late 80s & 90s. The outlook on life for people who have suffered under this system is inevitably bleak. It reflects substance abuse, mental illness, nihilism, and violence in such an honest (and often ugly) way.
This subject matter, coupled with Lofi analog textures and rough production styles, makes this a unique album in the rap genre. Memphis Rap represents a distinctive regional sound that set the groundwork for future music from artists like Lil Ugly Mane, Denzel Curry, Asap Rocky, and more.
While not advocating (and strongly advising against) the intense subject matter expressed within these songs - the music is essential as cultural documentation. Mystic Stylez represents insight into how tragic life within an oppressed inner city can be. It's reflective in Jungian terms as representative of one's shadow - our darker impulses within our human psyche.
It's easy to extrapolate the idea that in a society plagued by horrific social, economic, and psychological pressures - this behavior would be represented more than in communities of relative tranquility.
This music does not make you evil if you listen to it, and we detest the notion from external organizations that it does. Memphis Rap will never be mainstream, but it can provide an open-minded listener with insight into the true effect of suffering representative of systemic inner-city struggles.
All that context to say that Juicy J performed his set in a stray jacket, with a jigsaw mask over his face, draped often in red lighting. For us, his representation on stage was reflective of his early works as a member of Three 6 Mafia.
Even though much of his performance was playing classics from his 2010s run (some tracks including Dark Horse, Bandz a Make Her Dance, 23, etc.), Juicy J's outfit reflected his Memphis Rap origins.
I couldn't stop thinking about how funny it was to see Juicy J's evolution from producing some of the darkest music in the rap genre to performing pop-rap hits on tour with Logic (known by his fans for his 'peace, love, and positivity’ mindset & advocating for mental health on his hit 1-800-273-8255).
Juicy J's performance overall was brief and solid. Along with the other media at the event, we were vibing to those 2010s bangers. So much of Logic's audience didn't know these tracks, but for the ones who did, the set was full of hits. Juicy J even ended up playing some of his hits from his time with Three 6 Mafia but nothing from Mystic Stylez.