|Next Project:||Position of Power (Out 2/17)|
|Twitter:||Juice on Twitter|
Later this month, basketball fans and partiers nationwide will flock to Arizona’s capital city to take part in the festivities surrounding 2009’s NBA All-Star Game. In addition to showcasing the most talented ballers the league has to offer, All-Star weekend will give the Phoenix music scene’s best and brightest a chance to shine on a national level. One emcee who’s looking to take full advantage of that opportunity (and pop a few bottles in the process) is Juice, the self-proclaimed “Arizona crown-holder,” as well as the “New Breath of the West Coast.”
With Left Coast superstar The Game as his musical mentor and Phoenix Suns power forward Amar’e Stoudemire’s support on the business end, it’s clear to see that Juice is in a Position of Power. With the help of Bun B-featuring street single, “Salute,” and Booth-approved cut “I Do It,” the Black Wall Street emcee has listeners across the country eagerly awaiting the February 17th release of his new mixtape, and the debut album that is sure to follow.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Juice steps into the Booth to discuss the ongoing effects of “Kobe Bryant Syndrome,” how he feels about being compared to mentor The Game, and why most big-name artists aren’t doing enough to foster the next generation of emcees.
Listen to the Interview
Juice Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an emcee from Phoenix, Arizona who at NBA All-Star weekend [this] month will finally be in a Position of Power. Please welcome for a second time, a man with a new situation, a new outlook, and a hunger that rivals the fattest kids in America: my man Juice – how you doin’?
Juice: I’m good. How are you, Z?
DJ Booth: I’m wonderful, thank you so much for asking. Your Cardinals are in the Super Bowl.
Juice: Let me tell you something; I said this 12 months ago, and I think you were the first person I told this to: I said, “Homie, my state is on the bubble.” You’ve got myself, Juice, the Arizona crown-holder in the flesh, you’ve got my Phoenix Suns holdin’ it down with Amar’e Stoudemire, and, of course, right now I’m gonna say it again, live and direct, for the world to know, my Arizona Cardinals sittin’ in the Super Bowl.
DJ Booth: Why couldn’t the Cardinals have done a better job of gettin’ to the Super Bowl the year that it was held in Arizona, though? Wouldn’t that have made more sense?
Juice: I feel that, but everything’s positioning, baby – there’s a reason, know what I mean? Everything is timing and everything is positioning.
DJ Booth: I couldn’t agree with you more. Last time we spoke, you joined me inside the Booth for an interview, I asked you how you were able to breathe so easy in an industry that’s really full of high stress, and you said, thanks to KBS, which we all now know is “Kobe Bryant syndrome,” no matter what comes your way, no matter what you’re doin’, you’re always gonna drop 81 points a game. So, almost a year later, do you still suffer from KBS, and, if so, what are some of the side effects that everyone should be on the lookout for?
Juice: Let me tell you something – I said it, and I’ll say it again: I suffer from the Kobe Bryant syndrome. No matter what I do, or what I’m about, I always do it to the fullest and the max. I’m all about continuous progress, homie. If you were to speak to me today, and I was in the same situation that I was 12 months ago, that [would mean] I wasn’t doin’ my motherf*ckin’ job. Like I said, everyone knows that the game furnished me with the skills and the armor and the mental ability musically to create a classic album and mixtape, but I’ve also got a label situation dealin’ with Amar’e Stoudemire called HYP, which I do have an ownership stake in, which will be helpin’ push my album as well. Bein’ a new artist standin’ by one of the legends in the game, [The Game], and also bein’ backed by NBA superstar and business mogul Amar’e Stoudemire, it just tells you that I do Kobe Bryant sh*t, and I ball.
DJ Booth: [laughs] A lot of artists would be like, “Well, he’s already got Game’s backing; let him just be patient,” but obviously a situation presented itself. Explain what the case was and why you decided to make the move.
Juice: I wanted to put myself in a position where I could really show my true talent. Every artist strives for ownership, every artist strives for success, and every artist strives for creative control. When Game put me in that position and I watched him do Doctor’s Advocate and helped him do L.A.X., and once he stamped me and was like, “Young boy, I think that you’re ready to do what you need to do,” I thought it was my duty and my obligation to add more to my foundation, know what I mean?
DJ Booth: Absolutely.
Juice: A lot of artists and a lot of people do this five years down the line, when they’re on their sixth record. I’m not like that artist, I’m way different; I’m doin’ mine straight from the gate. It’s just like the Kobe Bryant Syndrome – you know, you go from high school to the league, and that’s what I did: I went straight from high school to the league, went from zero to a hundred, and I’m gonna do it well.
DJ Booth: Juice, when we talked last, we discussed the concerns about comin’ up under The Game, ‘cause when you come up under a well-established artist, sometimes you don’t get your shine on. You said, “Absolutely.” Now, knowing the comparisons that were made between the two of you – regionally, you’re both from the West Coast, people said that your vocal tone was somewhat similar – did identity as an artist become an issue for you?
Juice: The more people [saw] me with Game, the more difference they put between us. I think that it was a great thing to be attached at the hip with Game, ‘cause, like I said, we’re both form the West Coast, we do have similar vocal tones, we do have similar writing styles and tactics, but at the end of the day, once people see me next to Game, [they see], “Okay, this kid right here is the new fresh, he is the new West, he brings something a little different than Game does.” Game has been around Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, so he has a whole lane to himself. I’m from a whole new generation of emcees, and I’m about to garnish my own lane and my own legacy.
DJ Booth: Well, Game’s part of the equation. The other man that’s now part of the equation is Mr. Amar’e Stoudemire. Athletes have backed musicians for a long time – this is well-documented. Two reasons: one, they’ve got a large amount of disposable income, and they feel that it’s a good investment, and, two, there is an affinity to the lavish lifestyle that is portrayed in rap music. Now, here’s my question for you: Amar’e, right now he’s averaging about 21 points per game, but are you one hundred percent confident that he can take his skill off the court, into this situation with you and this entertainment company, and allow your career to take the next step?
Juice: Of course, of course. Before we even sat down and had this business discussion, there were two things that me and him did really get out there, and one was just coming up with a creative business plan to execute my skill and my album to the maximum capacity, but also stayin’ in each other’s lane. Like I said, he is a basketball star, he is a businessman, he is a mogul. At the same time, I am a recording artist and I am tryin’ to classify myself as a business mogul myself, so the agreement was, I’m not gonna jump on the court and try to act like I’m Raja Bell or Jason Richardson or someone like that, but he’s not gonna jump in my lane either and try and play Ron Artest and start rapping. No disrespect to Ron Artest, but we really sat down and put the blueprint together, we totally agreed on both situations, and we’re gonna put it down on a blueprint and make it go.
DJ Booth: Well, I’m glad you guys have got that all figured out, because I don’t think the public really wants to hear Amar’e try to rap, and I don’t know how good your basketball skills are, but I don’t think you’re NBA-ready, right?
Juice: I mean, I can’t lie – I am lightweight nice with the rock, but I’m not gonna jump into that.
DJ Booth: So you’re an all-star on the pickup game court.
Juice: Yeah, I’m nice with it, but my pen game is better.
DJ Booth: I’ll tell you what: next time I’m out in Arizona, we’ll play a game of Horse.
Juice: Two bottles; if I win, you owe me two bottles, if you win I owe you two bottles.
DJ Booth: That’s fine – after you reimburse me for my flight out there. Sound good?
Juice: I’ve got you on that.
DJ Booth: [laughs] NBA All-Star weekend, like we mentioned, comes through your hometown of Phoenix, Arizona February 13th through the 15th, during which you’re planning on doing crazy promotion for the new mixtape, Position of Power.
DJ Booth: So, Position of Power, is this a dope title for a project, or how you really feel about your current career?
Juice: You know what? I named it Position of Power for a couple different reasons. One, that is the way I totally feel about my career – like I said, I feel I’m in a position to do a lot of great things: release a mixtape, release my album, go out there and find some new action, create a new, solid company and garnish new artists. Second of all, I’ve seen a lot of people who were successful that never really wanted to extend their hand to help young, new artists garnish their craft. What’s really, really crazy is, the person who’s sold five million records or 10 million records can really help a dude who hasn’t sold any records. I’m not even talkin’ about financially, I’m talkin’ about music-wise, business-wise, really [furnishing] them with the skill to become successful. And it’s funny, because I am a new artist, and there have been a lot of artists that I’ve met and I’ve seen – and I’m not gonna name no names – that really didn’t want to reach out.
DJ Booth: Juice, let’s play devil’s advocate real quick. You’re talking about artists being able to recognize talent and lend a hand; let’s look at two really high-profile artists: Nelly and Jay-Z. Both of them in the position for a very long time to make that happen for less established artists underneath them, but both struggled mightily to see any success. Do you think artists see that people like Nelly and Jay-Z can’t do it and think to themselves, “Why bother?”
Juice: That might be true, but I think, at the end of the night, when you start dealin’ with things like that, you’ve got to look at it like, Nelly and Jay-Z have put artists in good positions. Keep in mind, some of their artists and acts may not be as relevant as of now, [but] Jay-Z has put out a platinum artist, like Beanie Sigel, he has put out a Memphis Bleek. Granted, they haven’t gotten to the five million mark or six million mark that Jay-Z has sold, or maybe even have been [knowledgeable enough] to do other business ventures outside of music, but keep in mind, they did do what they were supposed to do, to go back to their hood or their community to find new talent and put them on. Same with Nelly; he came in, dropped his album, he pulled in the St. Lunatics, Murphy Lee. I think that those two guys have done a good job, but there are a lot of other artists and executives who don’t do that. And I think it’s for their own selfishness and pride, to not see that next young guy shine.
DJ Booth: Let’s get back to what’s goin’ on. Prior to the actual NBA All-Star Game, the league holds All-Star Saturday Night, which has been a fan favorite for years. You’ve got the skills competitions for the solid playmakers, the three-point shootouts for the cocky sharpshooters, and the dunk competitions for the young, fly, and flashy ballers. So, Juice, what category do you think people will associate with you – a solid playmaker, a cocky sharpshooter, or a young, fly and flashy baller?
Juice: I’m all of ‘em.
DJ Booth: All three together?
Juice: Real talk; I’m young, I’m vibrant, I’m energetic, and I do sh*t big. When everybody comes to my city All-Star weekend you’re gonna see Juice, you’re gonna see HYP, you’re gonna see Amar’e Stoudemire, and we’re gonna look real big. Anybody who comes to the city to see me that weekend, I’m givin’ out golden tickets to all the major events. Of course that Thursday I’ve got the “Welcome to Arizona” party – myself, a couple of the Grand Hustle artists – Friday, I’ve got Amar’e Stoudemire’s Nike show release, Saturday I’ve got Victoria’s Secret, of course, and I’ve got the grand finale, which, actually, T.I.‘s gonna be shuttin’ down. So it’s gonna be a real, real big weekend. I’m givin’ bottles out to anybody who says, “Juice.” I’m with you, Z; you can hop on a plane, come out and holla at me, we can play Horse right quick, I can drop 30 on you and we can go have a drink.
DJ Booth: In December, we featured your Bun B-assisted “Salute” record. In honor of the calender flip to 2009, and, of course, we’ve got a new President in office, with our glasses held high, what would you like to toast to, my friend?
Juice: First off, I would like to toast to my new situation, toast to my album, and everyone comin’ to bring it in with me in my city, in my state All-Star weekend. Like I said, just pop a couple bottles and “Salute.”
DJ Booth: Juice, give everybody a website or a MySpace page so they can find out more about what you’ve got goin’ on.
Juice: You already know what it is and who it is: it’s your man Juice, the new breath of the West Coast, the Arizona crown-holder in the flesh. Make sure you’re stayinn’ in tune to my mixtape, Position of Power, comin’ out February 17th. Also, make sure you log on to myspace.com/juice for all the information pertaining to myself, HYP, and also All-Star weekend. You already know what it is with me, homie. I’ve got it, Z.
DJ Booth: As always, my man, I appreciate you takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck.
Juice: You already know. Z, whenever you come to the city, All-Star weekend, holla at me, homie, I’ve got you a bottle – it’s nothin’.
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