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BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: DJ Paul and Juicy J (of Three 6 Mafia)

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#16 – DJ Paul and Juicy J

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

DJ Paul and Juicy J. Early pioneers of trap music.

Most knowledgeable people believe that trap music started in Atlanta, GA. If you follow the timeline of DJ Toomp, arguably THE beatmaker most responsible for popularizing trap music, it’s follow this argument. Toomp professional career begins when he’s just 16; by 19 years old, he’s in Miami DJ’ing and making music with MC Shy-D. No doubt influenced by his association with 2 Live Crew and buzzing Miami bass sound, Toomp returns to Atlanta in the mid-/late 1990s with a style and sound that’s a sonic blend between the sounds and influences of Miami and his hometown of Atlanta. (In my interview with DJ Toomp, Toomp carefully traces the details of his early career and the emergence of the popular trap sound that’s so closely tied to Atlanta. You can read the full DJ Toomp interview in The BeatTips Manual.)

While Toomp may have indeed brought some of the ingredients for trap music back home to Atlanta, it would appear that a similar dish was being cooked up in Memphis, TN. As early as 1995 on Three 6 Mafia’s debut Mystic Stylez, DJ Paul and Juicy J were already fashioning what we would now readily consider to be trap music. While their first album was quite dark in terms of sound and lyrics (kind of reminiscent to the Gravediggaz), it did include one important song: “Da Summa.” On this song, you hear the double-time hi-hat and drum bounce that would soon come to be main stays of the trap sound most popularized in the mid-2000s by DJ Toomp.

Before going further, it’s important to appropriately look at what trap music is. For many beatmakers, particularly those who steadfastly support boom bap or east coast production (at the detriment of anything else), trap music is nothing more than a lazy, thoughtless, tinker-bell style and sound of music. I’ve never looked at trap music in this way. While I may not like some off-shoots of trap (I also don’t like everything east coast or boom bap), I respect trap music for being distinct and popular style and sound. Moreover, the really good trap music is dope! (No pun intended). Trap music didn’t emerge as the stepchild of east and west coast negligence. On the contrary, music makers in the south simply wanted to make music that was distinctly theirs. If you listen to most southern rappers from the late 1980s and early 1990s, you will notice how much they sound (or are trying to sound) like New York rappers. That all changed dramatically with trap music.

Around the mid-1990s, hip hop/rap in the south started becoming more reflective of it’s own sonic heritage, particularly the shadow of the might bass music of Miami, Florida. In other words, the distinct southern hip hop/rap sound that blossomed was not a disrespectful knock against hip hop/rap’s roots, but instead, just one region’s quest to reclaim its own roots and to export its own customs and slang. One important feature of Hip hop/rap music is that it has always served as medium for people sharing their hood on their terms. In this way, trap music provided a new, homegrown soundscape for a region of music makers looking to showcase their own identity at a time with the music industry was only looking east or west. Thus, when examining trap music, it’s best not only to explore it on its own terms, but also from the vantage point that it it’s one region’s legitimate sound.

And among pioneers of this sound sits DJ Paul and Juicy J. But I’d be remiss if I simply left at that. No, DJ Paul and Juicy J pioneered many of the elements that some consider to be “new” to trap. Because of their own east coast influences, DJ Paul and Juicy J’s sound included lots of sampling. Another distinction of their style and sound is that they were experimenting with the chopped-and-screwed style as early as 1995, almost two decades before some beatmakers and rappers started incorporating it into their music. Still, DJ Paul and Juicy J weren’t entirely trap. Spin through their catalog and you’ll soon hear that they were influenced by the east coast (New York) just as much as they were from the south. In fact, I think their embracement of the combination of these two main influences is largely responsible for the cultivation of their own style and sound.

Finally, just as with Ju Ju and Psycho Les of The Beatnuts, Madlib of Lootpack and Quasimoto, and Havoc of Mobb Deep, DJ Paul and Juicy didn’t just rhyme as a side-job, it was their full-time gig as as member of Three Six Mafia. For this, DJ Paul and Juicy J also hold the prestigious distinction of being in the canon of hip hop/rap as both beatmakers and rhymers.

DJ Paul and Juicy J [Three 6 Mafia] Beats (Songs) Recommended for Study:

“Ghetto Chick” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Sippin’ on Some Syrup” – Three 6 Mafia feat. UGK and Project Pat

“I’m So High” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Be a Witness” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Ridin’ Spinners” – Three 6 Mafia feat Lil Flip beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Good Stuff” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” – Three 6 Mafia feat. Hypnotize Camp Posse and Young Buck beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Stay Fly” – Three 6 Mafia feat. Young Buck and 8ball & MJG beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Tear da Club Up” (Da Real) – Three Six Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Who Run It” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Stomp” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Poppin’ My Collar” – Three 6 Mafia feat. Project Pat beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Da Summa” – Three Six Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Flashes” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Gettem Crunk” – Three Six Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

“Hit a Muthafucka” – Three 6 Mafia beat by DJ Paul and Juicy J

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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album ‘The Best of Times.’ Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual