April 12, 2017

Juicy J - Volume 9MM "It's On" (1994)

1994 was a busy time for the Triple 6 Mafia. It's crazy to think how close the posse was to releasing a classic for every month of that whole year. In spite of heavy competition, Juicy J Volume 9 easily sits atop this quality '1994 club'. On social media I see that this tape is constantly eclipsed by the equally iconic DJ Paul Volume 16 and Juicy's own Volume 10 tape (both from the same year). Without a second thought I believe that Volume 9 is a stronger tape than Volume 10; it's about twice the length, comes with a more direct sound quality, and displays a harder track sequencing. Volume 10, like the Paul and Juicy Spring Mix, functions more as an underground advertisement piece for when the group was moving into the realm of major distribution deals. On the other hand, I think Paul Volume 16 is an equally great tape. If there was ever an ideal Paul and Juicy juxtaposition, then it would be these two albums. Volume 16 is on the slower, smoked out side of the Memphis rap spectrum with its dependence on horror-flick samples and odd, tight, and mutilated vocal and instrumental chops. Volume 9 is closely related to the most original style of Memphis hip hop; the high-paced, get-buck, tear-tha-club-up, explosions that dominated the roller rink parties and highschool talent shows.

As opposed to 1994-era DJ Paul, Juicy always stuck close to his club affinity; spinning back 8 bar instrumental samples and just letting the funk breath. The club-oriented Memphis music isn't even really my thing, but Volume 9 transcends my stupid categorizations. My favorite detail of this tape is how clean the drums sound. One could say that these crisp drums are simply a result of the better-than-usual tape rip quality Volume 9 inhabits, but I don't think so. No outside level of distortion or muddiness could truly bring the drum programming to this level of pop and tightness. While I'm on the topic of rip quality: I have a hunch that the files linked below are actually one of the few original Triple 6 tape rips out there (as in non-bootleg rips), probably not, but the files sound incredible regardless. It sounds like Juicy uses the same hi-hat, kick, snare, and bass samples for the vast majority of these tracks. I love this because it gives the illusion that Volume 9 was a straight-mix session chalked up in a single weekend. The bass and hi-hat stabs are close to Shawty Pimp's level of funk; I mean, just listen to those bass-halts and the pulling of the open hi-hats on 9 To Ya Dome and Dick Suckin' Hoes...eviscerating. Juicy also proves that a song doesn't need to be slow in order to ride smooth and smoked out--check out the original installment of Ridin' In The Chevy or the long-riding Easily Executed mix.

Similar to Paul with Volume 16, Juicy takes a big step away from the sex and pimping tracks and lets the gangsta attitude rip, and in my opinion, this sets the tape up for much more success. The rappers follow suit with hard G'd-up flows and lyrics. I don't know what else to talk about with this aspect since the features are so varied and Volume 9 is all-in-all a producer's album, but I can vouch that these verses are nothing but top quality. Actually, I think that any of these verses can be considered career-defining tracks to their respective rappers. Unlike DJ Paul's tapes there are no dodgy Crunchy Black verses or the inevitable Lord Infamous monotony. Project Pat, Lil Fly, Lil Noid, Skinny Pimp, Scarecrow, Lil Glock, S.O.G., Gangsta Boo, Juicy J himself, and even Al Kapone set their vocals on fire. I think my favorite rap track from this tape is the Lil Noid and Lil Fly collaboration on Ridin' In The Chevy--incredible chemistry that results in the two flowing like loosely-patterned waves over the beat. Also, just in case you didn't get enough quality rapping from the body-portion of the tape, Juicy helps promote MC Mack's Lets Make A Stang junt by including it in the three track epilogue. Lets Make A Stang is self-produced by Mack and I'll speak on it more in a MC Mack solo tape review, but I do need to say that those cowbells are fucking insane. Juicy J Volume 9 will forever be one of my favorites from the 90s Memphis underground. For anyone interested in exploring this realm of hip hop, make it a point that 9MM is one of your first listens because it's one mean as fuck tape with a real clean sound.