DJ Paul is a legend in his own right. As one of the founding members of Memphis group, Three 6 Mafia, he has made countless hits, won a Grammy, and even became a reality star (sort of). Now with the group on an indefinite break, the two remaining active members and faces of the group, DJ Paul and Juicy J, are taking the time to explore the world of the solo artist. Paul has taken this chance to do his own thing musically, and so far it is paying dividends as he has been able to put out a slew of sounds that hardcore fans have flocked to his own brand of music.
How do you feel about how the latest album has been received by fans?
Everything is good, man. The fans love it, everybody that I talk to and everybody that hits me up on Twitter and on the streets loves it. The album is jamming. There’s no denying that.
Why your track record and the success that you’ve already had, what makes you want to continue?
Because I’m my biggest fan and I like my music, and I don’t really care for a lot of the music that’s out there these days. I know a lot of my fans don’t as well. One thing about the music business out there is that it ain’t hard like rap used to be with groups like us (Three 6 Mafia) and even further back with groups like N.W.A. and the Geto Boys.
Even around our time like with Outkast and I can go on for days, but a lot of the rap music you got these days it don’t really care as much they just go ahead and do whatever and just put it out. That’s cool too if that’s how you go and do your thing, but I don’t care about it, so I’m just trying to keep the hard sh** out there for the people that want to hear the hard sh** and if they don’t, then they always got a shitload of the soft sh** that you can listen to.
Do you think you’re still getting better and improving on your style?
I think it’s still improving because one thing that a lot of people talk about that I do now that I didn’t do back in the days is punchlines. You know I didn’t do punchlines back in the day, and a lot of people really didn’t. You had some rappers here and there who would throw something in, but you know I give credit to the punchlines to Lil’ Wayne. Lil’ Wayne is who came really hard with the punchlines throughout whole verses and he set that whole thing off. That’s what people are into now, so I show a little versatility or whatever on this whole last album and some of the mixtape before it.
That one and this last album, I just wanted to go really hard because that’s what people are into now. That’s what I do and that’s what I did for years. It’s whatever is hot at the time, but I still incorporate what I do with it at the same time. I would never come out making a song like a Lil’ Wayne because I can’t do what he does, and he probably couldn’t do what I do. But you know at the same time I’m a fan of Lil’ Wayne and I’m a friend of his as well, so he made those punchlines popular and I came with a few on these last couple of projects.
That’s how you stay relevant. You have to keep your ears to the streets. Not copying another person’s style or another person’s music because I never did that. Three 6 Mafia was always trendsetters. We never copied nobody else’s trends, but at the same time you have to keep your ears to the streets, so if the thing people want to talk about is jewelry, I might talk about a little jewelry or something like that. I’m going to do that, but I’m going to flip mine a little bit different. You just got to stay relevant with what the world is on right now.
Is it hard to stay relevant after being in the game so long, or does it just kind of come naturally to you now?
It kind of comes naturally, but still at the same time it’s hard. You know anything in your life is hard, period. Because we’ve been doing it for so long there’s nobody who has really been doing it as long as us and have done as much work as us studio-wise. There’s a lot of groups that have been out the same length of time as we have or longer, but they don’t have as many studio projects out.
We’ve probably produced thousands and thousands of songs and made maybe a hundred albums, not just Three 6 Mafia of course. Between the 30 mixtapes that we had out before, we got our record deal between me and Juicy. And then when we got the record deal, another 30 or 40 albums between Three 6 Mafia and other people that we produced outside our label and wrote songs for like Gangsta Boo’s album, Project Pat, Lil Wyte, and other people that we produced for on the side like Ludacris and Young Buck. So we did a whole lot of songwriting, and then we always made our beats too, so I can’t think of nobody else in the world who did that except for maybe Prince and still even he ain’t do as much as we did.
What’s the difference between the Three 6 Mafia sound and the DJ Paul solo music?
The difference is I can do more of what I want to do. When you’re writing for Three 6 Mafia, you’re writing for different people, especially when it was everybody, and you had six different personalities and six different kinds of people that you have to please. At the same time, you have to make sure that you walk into the room with something hard when you come into the studio.
When I’m doing my solo stuff, it don’t matter what nobody else in the room thinks because it’s just me and the engineer. So, I’ll make my sh** and I can do whatever the hell else I want to do versus when you’re in a group and everybody has to have their words or ideas heard. That’s the real difference.
As far as the sound, it’s still the real hardcore sh** talking about robbing, drug dealing, getting high; the same sh** for the most parts, but you can be a little more free with it. It’s like having a house. When you live in a frat house with a lot of people, you can’t walk around with just your draws on when you want to go and get some orange juice at 3 or 4 in the morning. But when you’re solo, you can walk all over the house with your nuts out.
Images via Tygereye
Michael Mahon attended Clark Atlanta University, where he majored in journalism. He is a regular contributor to SoJones.com and has written for several other online and print publications, including Ballerstatus.com, Allhiphop.com, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and INsite Atlanta. Aside from writing, he is also a huge sports fan and film buff.