The one thing that we can never deny about music is that it changes and evolves every single day. New sounds are being created by new artists and new sub-genres of hip-hop are becoming the new trend. Another thing that we can never deny about music is that it is extremely timeless. Certain records, albums, artists and beyond are considered classics and legends because of the impact that they not only have on their community but on the music world as a whole. Three 6 Mafia did just that as they made their way into the industry in the mid 90’s, and the one person who stood behind all of it, was their founder, DJ Paul.
DJ Paul’s track record is extensive as he was one of the first major DJ’s and producers coming out of Memphis, Tennessee in the late 80’s. After releasing multiple solo cuts, he went on to form the group Three 6 Mafia with Crunchy Black and long time friend – fellow Memphis native Juicy J. After forming the trio they began to take the world by storm, sweeping the streets with hot tunes and commercially successful albums. Records like “Sippin on Some Syrup” from their When The Smoke Clears album, “Ridin Spinners” from their 2003 LP Da Unbreakables, “Poppin’ My Collar” and “Stay Fly” from their 2005 project Most Known Unknown, tore the early and mid-2000’s to pieces. The groups most highest honor came when they won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for their record “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from the movie Hustle & Flow.
Upon the groups split around 2009, DJ Paul continued his musical quest as he went on to drop more solo albums and produce more classic hits. He dropped A Person of Interest in 2012, teamed up with Yelawolf to drop their 2013 collab EP Black Fall, and then continued on with his release of his solo cut Mafia 4 Life which came in 2016. Within that four-year stretch, DJ Paul also dropped a few mixtapes with Da Mafia 6ix, a group that consisted of the original Three 6 Mafia participant, Lord Infamous.
It is now 2017 and the K.O.M. (King of Memphis) has had his hands full. On the verge of dropping a brand new solo project, he also has an artist that he has been grinding it out with by the name of Weirdo Westside King. The two have dropped multiple records together such as “Bingo” and their newly released song “Ain’t Gone Love It” which also came with a video.
We had the chance to speak with DJ Paul as he spoke on his forthcoming album, working with Weirdo Westside King and the state of today’s music scene. He even gave us some old stories about his come-up days in Memphis with Three 6 Mafia.
Check it out below.
What has been the process for you creating your new project
DJ Paul: Basically, the whole thing of the project is to take it back to my old sound, the old DJ Paul sound. Before Three 6 Mafia when I was just DJ Paul and it was just me and my brother Lord Infamous. It was like a mix of songs and it was either me or members of my crew and some of it would be my signature “Crunkstrumentals” which would be instrumentals with crunk chants and sampled hooks and this and that on it. I brought those back a little bit on my last album Yots (Year Of The Six) Pt. 2 that dropped last quarter of last year, 2016. So, there will be more of those on there, like I said it’s just the original OG Paul sound that’s what the fans been asking for and I see that what a lot of people are back into these days, there using that old three six sounds and a lot of people are sampling it and clear samples from me. They sampled the creator it takes the king to bring it back himself. I never left it alone, to be honest with you, but I just didn’t do full albums of it. It would just be a track on my albums or mixtapes, not a single but this whole Volume 17 mixtape is going to be like that.
I’m sure the downtime that you have had has helped with creating the project. So tell me what that process was like coming up with the concept for the project?
DJ Paul: Man, I really ain’t have no downtime since the fucking 90’s but I don’t really work fast but I don’t really work slow. So I have been around a lot of producers, some of the top producers in the business and I’ve seen producers go in, I’m talking about producers that have hit songs right now on the radio. I’ve seen some of these producers get up and make 100 beats a week, and out of these 100 beats they make a week, you know 400 a month, maybe one of them will end up on their own artists project. That was never the case with me. If I went into the studio and made 5 beats week all five of those at least four of those would be on the album and three of them would be singles. I just work different, when I go in I hit hard, I strike right on the nose right off the top and I don’t have to live in the studio like you see some artists doing even though I live in the studio but I just be doing other stuff.
I haven’t had any down time, my last album just came out the end of last year so that wasn’t even 6 months ago the album that I did with Yelawolf, the Yots (Year Of The Six) Pt. 2 album. I didn’t go straight into this project I went straight into producing projects for some other people. Stuff for Riff Raff, stuff for Jon Connor, Dr. Dre’s new artist, some stuff for my new artist Weirdo Westwood King and a lot of other people, then I just decided to go into my project. Actually, some fans decided it for me, I wasn’t even going to make a rap project this year, I had been writing EDM songs for a lot of kids. I got about four of those that’s coming out, one of them already came out with this guy named Kennedy Jones, it’s called “Never Not.” So I had been writing these EDM songs for these kids and I was just going to stick to that because that’s fun and easier, but all the fans were like “Ahh man you should bring out that straight underground shit man a Volume 17 for Summer 17. They kind of talked me into doing it. So I was like well yeah it’s time to bring it back at least before I take a break on it and go straight to producing other folks for a minute, in 1/2 year or a year I should at least hit them with some straight underground joints to hold them off for a minute. My last album wasn’t straight underground joints it had all kind of stuff on it because it came out through me and Yelawolf.
You mentioned your new artist Weirdo Westwood King. Can you give a brief background on him, how did you guys link up, how did you come across his music and what’s the process like working with him now?
DJ Paul: Basically, my agent found him and me and Weirdo had been talking for two or three years and we were supposed to do this along time ago but he wasn’t ready. Even though his music was bumping he wasn’t all the way ready mentally for it at the time. You know it’s a lot this business is hard, and he’s a young dude. This business is hard enough, but when you come into and you’re young it’s even way harder. It makes it harder for me being the producer, like the manager, and everything over these guys projects when I sign them, it makes it hard to explain things to them when they don’t have any or limited knowledge of what’s going on. You can tell them the smallest thing that’s so simple and they won’t really understand it.
I had this situation back when Three 6 Mafia first blew up, we brought out Tear Da Club 97, then we started producing other people on the side, we brought out a Gangsta Boo solo album, and Project Pat. We signed another artist from Memphis, I’m not going to say his name but he made the biggest mistake he could ever make of his life. He had a hot song out that was produced by Juicy and I featuring us and it was on BET, MTV and all that shit and I’ll never forget, I was sitting in front of my momma’s house, me and Juicy in a burgundy 15 passenger van. We were getting ready to go on tour, Sony had sent us on tour for him. When is the last time you saw the CEO’s go on a promo tour with the artist, people don’t really do that. That’s how hard Juicy and I were hustling to try and these guys out back in the day. So we get in the 15 passengers with this dude and all of a sudden he’s just like “I don’t want to do this” and I was like what, and he was like “I got a hot song on the radio I don’t want to do free shows” and I was like fool why do you think this song is hot on the radio. You got to get out there and rub some backs, you gotta do some work, there’s going to be free shows when you start off and there’s going to be free shows when you end, that’s how it goes. It’s going to be a lot of paid shows, but there is going to be a lot of free shows especially when you are talking about the radio. That nigga got up out the car and never turned back, and he never became a rapper again and now he’s working a regular job.
But anyway back to Weirdo now you know he’s ready, two or three years went by he kept recording and sending me stuff. Then when I heard the new stuff I liked it, I hit him up then we went right in within a month and recorded a whole album in about a week.
Do you see him being the next breakout artist coming out of the Memphis area either this year or the following year?
DJ Paul: Yeah I think so man. This year right here… It’s so crazy though if you don’t start recording at the end of the year before your music don’t really get out till the next year. If you start the second quarter of that year, your shit probably won’t get out and good till the following year. It might come out that year, but if you don’t catch the spring or the summer you kind of get messed up. When it starts getting down to the fourth quarter it’s so many holidays and people in America get thrown off during the holidays and we have so many of them. You can still put some music out there don’t get me wrong, I always put my stuff out in the fourth quarter, like Halloween I always used to put a project out, but sometimes it’s a little harder for newer artists.
I’m going to still bring out his project this year and hopefully, it does good but I know the project he puts out next year will be the better one. You got the before the business learning experience and you got the during the learning business experience and that’s the one that really matters. Like you can take UFC all day and they can show you how to throw a punch but they don’t teach your ass how to take a punch, so when you get in that ring and you get hit, your like holy shit they didn’t tell me this, they didn’t tell me how hard this shit was going to hurt. It wakes you up a little more and sends you back to the drawing board, so when you go back the following year you’ll be like ok yeah I’m ready. That’s how I think it will work for him and it will be like that for a lot of artists. Some of them will get it faster some of them won’t
When you spoke about the project you talked about being inspired by 21 Savage, and Migos. Are you using any personal relationships or anything that you have been dealing with on the music tip to help you with this project?
DJ Paul: I love 21 Savage and a lot of the young guys that are out right now, but I’m not really using that for inspiration because when you start doing stuff like that before you know it you’ll make yourself sound like that person, you really can’t listen to other artists music that much. Unless you do something totally different if you do like pop music you can listen to rap music all day because when you go in the studio that shit is going to be totally different, your not even going to think about that. Best case you probably get one of those guys to do a feature with you, but it’s still going to be on your level. Like when Migos just did that song (Bon Appetit) with Katy Perry. She didn’t go in there and put them niggas on no rap beat, she put them niggas to the test, she was like can you flow on this muthafucka, they rocked that muthafucka to. She probably ride around in a Lamborghini with the top down listening to Migos “Bad & Boujee” because she is bad and boujee (fuck I’d marry her in a heartbeat) but when she goes in the studio her music is totally different.
I don’t really listen to rap for inspiration, I like to listen to old school. I listen old school period, but when I’m working I really, really, like to listen to old school. I listen to all kind of shit 60s, 70s, 80s, but mostly 80s pop music, that’s my favorite. As far as the inspiration, the inspiration comes from stuff I go through on a daily in life or things that I have gone through in life.
Have you used inspiration from the olden days from when you and Three 6 Mafia were at the height of your success?
DJ Paul: Oh yeah that’s definite. Now you hit it on the head because I do, do that. I go back and listen to the old tapes. I got Underground Volume 16: For Da Summer CD in my car in rotation. I have to go back and put my mind in that frame as close as I can to try to capture that feeling. It’s way different honestly because back in those days I was full of cocaine and anything else you can name, and these days I’m not. So it’s a slight difference but the talent will always be there, it’s just that some of the stuff that I talked about back then was way, way crazier. People are so fidgety these days, stuff that I said back in those days if you said stuff like that these days, oh my god, they’ll be trying to file a national ban against your ass. We had songs back in the day called, “Beatin These Bitches Down” after OJ Simpson you can’t put your hands on no women, that shit over with, you can’t talk about beating no women up these days.
Hell, I just did a concert in Memphis, I talked about shooting some shit up and it was all over TMZ everybody had a heart attack and I said how can you have a heart attack about a rapper saying shoot. Have you ever heard a rap song that didn’t say they were going to shoot some shit in it. That’s all rappers talking about is shooting up shit, that’s all they ever talk about. I was just joking, what I look like riding around and shooting some shit up. It was just part of the show, they were messing with a niggas sound. Like you being a writer, if I go over there and took your computer, your pen and pad you would probably holler out a couple of curse words too.
So they took parts of my art and craft from me taking away my music and turning my mic off while I was performing. I just wished they would have done it a better way, come up there and pull me to the side and tell me I was doing too many cuss words it’s a clean show. I would have replied you didn’t put it in my contract, but now that you told me just give me two seconds we can drag this crate and do a clean show, I already got one made. I do a college tour every year and here and there someone will ask for a clean show, not really though I probably did two or three in my life.
The crazy part about is the festival I just did where they made all the fuss, 2 Chainz just did that festival right before me. It was 2 Chainz, Snoop and maybe Wiz, but I’m like I’m going to have to call Tity Boi, that’s my longtime brother because I don’t really believe that nigga went up there and did a clean show. I really don’t believe it but you never know.
That’s funny that you bring that up, what’s your personal opinion and feelings towards rappers and writers having the creative license to say things? Are you on the fence about it or do you feel that rappers should be able to say whatever they feel in their music?
DJ Paul: Yeah they should be able to say what they want to say. I’m going to give you a prime example if you remember back in the day when Universal Records was on all that craziness and they brought out the first Juvenile album 500 Degrees. They were censoring it all over the place, they wouldn’t let him say “9 Millimeter” or nothing. You thought you were listening to a half clean half dirty album because some parts would have cursing then all of a sudden there would be a word that wouldn’t be a curse word that they wouldn’t let slide because it was violent. How you going to take these dudes from the streets, rappers now where not talking about pop singers. You going to take a nigga from the streets and you going make some money off him, then you are going to give him some money to influence him to go out and be even crazier so you can go and make some more money off of him because you know that’s what he’s going to do. Give him some money he’s going to go buy some crazy shit with it, go buy some drugs or some shit like that because that’s what he’s used to doing, but that’s the reason you like him the first place. So let that nigga stay the reason why you liked him. You take a nigga out of the projects put a million dollars in his hand and all of sudden you want him to be Michael Jackson, nah that’s not going to happen that nigga going to be a superman version of what you already took him from at least for the first five years or something if three or four of that isn’t in prison. So if that’s what you are going for then let it be what it is because that’s what it is. Don’t try and change them make them be angels because that’s not what they are, that’s not what none of us were, we came up from fucked up shit and that’s why we can talk about it and that’s why they like us, that’s why they like rap music. Don’t try and sugar coat it because there was nothing sugar about it.
You have referred to your sound as “Crunkstrumentals.” How do you feel like that relates to your sound now with this project and has it transformed over the years?
DJ Paul: Well the “Crunkstrumentals” is a different thing, you’ll see it in parenthesis on my album and if you check out my last album Yots (Year Of The Six) Pt. 2 you’ll see there was two or three on there. Basically, the “Crunkstrumentals” weren’t a song, they would be an instrumental with crunk chants all over kind of like what you heard on the earlier Lil Jon stuff. He got that from us that came from all of our earlier tapes, it might have one verse on it, it might not.
How do you view yourself now in this new generation of music?
DJ Paul: The one thing about it is my music was before its time, a lot of people will tell you that. I can take my drum machine from the 9th grade and it would either be killing or it would sound like some of the shit your listening to right now because are sound was so far before it’s time. I was just with Lil Twist the other day and he said “we got to do a song together with that old shit, that shit back” and I was like yea that shit back. Believe me, I see it a lot of my shit is in there and y’all don’t even know about. Like that “yea hoe” sample that’s my shit, I’m going to retire off that muthafucka.
What else can we expect from you with this project coming out and going forward with the rest of the year?
DJ Paul: So I’m going to bring out this project and it’s going to be a straight underground sound, my next project won’t be a straight underground sound because I don’t want to keep doing everything like that. It will be incorporated in their but every song won’t be like Volume 17 will. I got a group project with me and Riff Raff coming out, one with me and Yelawolf and an unreleased album that Stitches and I made that we never brought out. Then I got Weirdo Westwood King and I got another group of artists that I signed from Memphis I started working with.