The Resurgence of Trap Star, OJ Da Juiceman
Having initially pushed well over a dozen underground mix-tapes, now veteran, East Atlanta, Georgia, based (t)rapper, OJ Da Juiceman, also a well-known affiliate of fellow ATLien Gucci Mane, finally unleashed his major label debut, The Otha Side of the Trap [Asylum Records/1017 Brick Squad/Mizay], back on January 27th 2009. Flash forward over eight years and countless street releases later, and the Da Juiceman is back like he never left. As a matter of fact, and to hear the 35 year old southern stalwart himself tell it, OJ ain’t went nowhere; he’s been here all along.
Check out our interview with the rapper, ready to make his mainstream Hip-Hop resurgence.
Parlé Mag: Tell me your story! What and who inspired you to become a musician and to become OJ Da Juiceman?
OJ Da Juiceman: I’ll probably say growing up listening to Juvenile, the whole Cash Money era, back when we were probably beating on tables at the lunchroom, doing the little freestyle thing. I probably figured I wanted to take the rapping route maybe the early 2000’s and whatnot, and, you know, I’ve been called OJ my whole life… you know my name Otis Williams, Jr., so I’ve been OJ since I came out the womb. So I just tagged along Da Juiceman with it when I started rapping.
Parlé Mag: Coming up, who did you look to for inspiration?
OJ Da Juiceman: I mean, I patterned myself from no one. I had a variety of music I always listened to; from Hip Hop to Old School, to Soul and R&B… so I crafted my own style. My style originated from where (I am) right now, to what I done been through, what I done, seen my trials and tribulations, and I copied no one.
Parlé Mag: Do you consider yourself a pioneer for Trap music?
OJ Da Juiceman: Not really. I mean, you know, from what they saying, from their perspective, maybe sorta, but from my way of being and how I look at it is I’m just really giving these folks what I done been through. Like if you got the hustle to make your money, I’ma give you the situations of what could happen, what can’t happen, what will happen, how you might be on top, how you might fall off; that’s what my music consists of.
Parlé Mag: Looking back to when you started your musical journey, how does it feel to see how far Trap music has come and how popular it is becoming?
OJ Da Juiceman: I’m real proud of it ’cause it shows that different situations from different people is always believable, especially when you come in the game being yourself, telling your side of the story on how you grew up and what you went through. I feel like with Trap music is gonna always be there. It’s a platform for people who gonna hustle to get money to deliver to other people who might not know how to rap about going through a certain situation. So I feel like, man, it’s a good thing… and big shout out to all the little young boys who coming up through the Trap game of rap. Everybody doing good, man, it’s a good look.
Parlé Mag: How did you originally link up with Gucci Mane and break into the mainstream?
OJ Da Juiceman: Well, shit, I’ve been knowing Gucci since early nineties, man. We grew up together like picking up cans, trading aluminum cans in for dollars, knocking on folks doors, taking out trash for a dollar. That’s how far back we go. We go back to blowing Nintendo cartridges and all kinds of shit like that. So once I came home from chain gang one year, he was just putting out the Trap House album. Then, I peeped the movement like early with it ’cause when I went to chain gang I went down there as Gold Mouth but I came out OJ. That was going to be my rap name, Gold Mouth, but I started saying I was gonna use OJ. So boom, I met back up with him after the Trap House album was blowing on the scene and he told me that I need you to prove to him what I was worth. I was going on the road 10,000 CDs on my own with the same booking number that I got right now to this day, passing out my CDs, doing our thing on the road. So I been knowing homey for a long time, man.
Parlé Mag: What’s your relationship with Gucci now?
OJ Da Juiceman: Yeah, you know, that’s the homey. He the big homey, big Gucci, man, Gucci muthaphucka.
Parlé Mag: What would you say is the difference between Rap and Trap music? And, how does your sound separate you from the rest of today’s up and coming musicians?
OJ Da Juiceman: It really ain’t no different, it’s just maybe my delivery ain’t as…back then I was kinda saying (things) kinda slower, to right now I’m not jumbling it up I’m just delivering it at a faster tone than I was back then. But as far as…I look at it like I don’t want to switch it up. Folks telling me I need to do this…I don’t want to do that ’cause I came in the game Trap rapping, and that’s what I’m gonna forever be. Like I’m not trying to go and make all the pop records or all the God damn EDM records and all. Nah, I don’t wanna do all that. I just wanna do Trap music, what I’ve (been) known for. A lot of these folks know, “How in the hell this man come from selling bricks to now he wanna do pop?” Ya hear me? I can’t do that, so I gotta stay in my lane.
Parlé Mag: You recently unveiled the new video for the track “Box Chevy”. Talk to me about that song?
OJ Da Juiceman: “Box Chevy”… when I really started writing to that track, it took me back to ’08, ’09 and that’s how I came up with the “Box Chevy.” I really got like… real talk, no rap, when I did the record I just reminisced on my old days and that’s what made me come up with the “Box Chevy” record. Plus, the bass line of the track, the actually beat.
Parlé Mag: I know 2017 is supposed to be a resurgence of Da Juiceman, but first talk to me about where you’ve been? You had an amazing run with that 2010 XXL Freshmen cover, the Jadakiss album feature, the R. Kelly album feature and then it seems like you disappeared almost…
OJ Da Juiceman: I mean, I was still doing the same thing. It’s just I was big in the mixtape world. I wasn’t big to where the big labels was behind me still to put me on big albums, (like) Mariah Carey albums and all that shit like when I was with Warner Bros., so once (I wasn’t) over there with Mizay Entertainment / Warner Bros. anymore, I was just straight independent artist 32 Entertainment, only lane I had was mixtapes. So for those who wasn’t relevant on the mixtape game scene it is what it is. I felt like I ain’t went nowhere, but some people be like, “Damn, Juice, where you been?” Hey, man, still doing the same thing I’m tellin you, that I been doing this shit. You might need to go on the website to see them muthaphuckas, they there.
Parlé Mag: Quickly going back to that XXL cover and that time [2009, 2010] for you. How crazy was it? And, do you have any regrets about anything from that time?
OJ Da Juiceman: Yeah, man, I had fun that year. (Lots of things) coming to a young nigga at that time, but, I mean, on what I wouldn’t of did or shouldn’t have did, what I would’ve did was had some lawyers that covered all that paperwork, ya hear? And then, like, I wouldn’t have jumped out the gate, ya hear? But other than that, nah. Like I said, I had a good run, man. It was fun for me, so, I mean, it was fun for me. I had fun. I had a good run. Still having fun.
Parlé Mag: Present day, who are some of OJ’s favorite rappers?
OJ Da Juiceman: You know, I salute ’em all ’cause everybody coming in with their own consistent grind, making it do what it do for this Hip-Hop world. No matter good or bad, music is music and entertainment is entertainment, so it’s a big salute from my end to every young person coming in seeing that, “Hey, man, you can live your dream through this music, if you’re really talented with this stuff and it’s what God blessed you with.” Do your thing young’n, get your paper.
Parlé Mag: Besides “Box Chevy” what else can listeners expect?
OJ Da Juiceman: The actual album that this single is on came out November 23rd 2016. I always try to put out an album for my birthday, so On Da Come Up 2 is the name of it. I put it out November 23rd. It’s on iTunes, Google Play, Apple Music; wherever you can purchase it, it’s one there.
Parlé Mag: I know you have your own label, 32 Entertainment, which is big! Why’d you start that and what are some goals for 2017 with the company?
OJ Da Juiceman: The future plan is getting it more established, more successful, to where we can go out and sign other talent; younger talent, older talent, whatever talent we can find that’s willing enough to make good music, ’cause that’s what it’s about, man. It’s about talent and making good music, and we want to be that label to do it. But right now, you know, we just focusing on me to make it where I could get a big label like a Warner or an Epic to come give me a label deal to where I can go find the talent.
Parlé Mag: What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do to become successful in the music industry? And, what advice do you have for upcoming rappers and artists in the industry trying to make a name for themselves like you did?
OJ Da Juiceman: First off read your paperwork. Take your paperwork to somebody who knows what’s going on, and just don’t jump into anything because you’re in bliss from everything coming your way. God ain’t gonna take you down no wrong road to where you can’t come back from, so I feel like just stay one thousand to yourself, man.. .and you gonna have them bumps in the road, that’s how them streets was built. Stay consistent with your grind, and don’t let nobody tell you no if this what you really wanna do.
Parlé Mag: Are there things outside of music that you like to do to spark your creativity?
OJ Da Juiceman: Yeah, I gotta couple of endeavors I’m finna try to link in and do. Real estate. Man, I got my little brother and them doing a cartoon, trying to pitch to somebody. I know they gonna want it once they hear it and see what’s going on, you know. I got a clothing line, man. I gotta couple of little endeavors that I’m doing, but I’m try’na stay consistent with some revenue coming in.
Parlé Mag: Any final words you want to put out there?
OJ Da Juiceman: Man, go on and get the album, On Da Come Up 2, if you ain’t got it, man. And, you know, follow me on Twitter: @OJDaJuiceman32 IG: @OjDaJuiceman32, and everybody stay 1000!
Images by Jamie Cooper
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