Highly Intoxicated displays just how well a veteran rapper can craft a project. Juicy J, DJ Paul, and Lord Infamous started the group Three 6 Mafia in the early 90s, almost thirty years ago. Several members would come and go, but the group reached the pinnacle of fame when they won an Oscar for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” in 2006. Juicy has accumulated a wealth of knowledge since then, and solidified his designation as a rap legend. He has evolved from an artist that had to play his role in a group setting, to a chart-topping solo rapper, all because of his ability to adapt. In fact, if I could use one word to describe Highly Intoxicated, it would be adaptation. Juicy J utilizes young stars, adapts, and then outshines. He remains relevant because of his ability to successfully sift through emerging talent to find a sound that he can conquer, and equally, that is currently conquering the genre. The $uicide Boy$ handle about half of the production on Highly Intoxicated, and they are the young talent in the equation. The group consists of two cousins, Ruby da Cherry and $lick $loth. Hailing from New Orleans, The $uicide Boy$ are basically the masterminds behind the sound of Highly Intoxicated. Key Wane, Mike Will Made It, TM88, Crazy Mike and Southside also loan beastly production to the highly anticipated mixtape, but Ruby da Cherry and $lick are the real architects.

In an interview with XXL, $lick reminisces about the artist that he grew up listening too. “I got introduced to Three 6 Mafia when I was 8, when I was riding with my uncle. He played U.N.L.V.’s “Drag Em ‘N the River,” Three 6 Mafia’s “Slob on My Knob” and “Tear da Club Up,” and after I heard that I got obsessed.” The influence that the Three 6 sound had on the young $uicide Boy$ member is immediately noticeable the moment the intro to Highly Intoxicated begins. $lick and Ruby da Cherry were able to capture and recreate the energy that Three 6 Mafia fathered decades ago. Three 6 pioneered a sound that was rooted in horror, and was later labeled as “horrorcore.” The group originally went by the name “Triple Six Mafia,” a nod to the number of The Beast of Revelations. Lord Infamous and Crunchy Black were notorious for their lyrics about Luciferianism, or the worship of Lucifer. Three 6’s dark and sadistic concept was haunting and legendary, and when they infused it with crunk music it became a movement. The $uicide Boy$ built on that trademark sound for Highly Intoxicated and that is what sets this mixtape apart from Juicy J’s other solo projects. He has never failed to deliver, but this tape will likely sit high among his catalog of mixtapes.

Stand out features on Highly Intoxicated include label mate and friend Wiz Khalifa, A$AP Rocky, Cardi B, XXXTentacion, Smokepurpp, Project Pat, and Rick Ross. The album opens with the sound of thunder, which is an appropriate representation of the storm that Juicy J is about to unleash. He enters the “Intro” rapping like a man possessed, with a flow that rides the pocket of the beat to perfection. The hard-hitting bass will rattle your teeth, I could hardly contain myself from swinging my dreads ignorantly to the track. The turn-up contagion continues on “Highly Intoxicated,” the title track on the mixtape. The beat features suspenseful guitar chords, and more teeth-rattling bass. There is no proper chorus, but Juicy relentlessly delivers well-polished verses on the short but sweet banger. It is uncommon for artists to put the title track at the beginning of their projects, but this song is scorching regardless. Juicy J’s decision to give his listeners the centerpiece of the album as the second track was a bold move. He skipped the build-up and got right to it. Fortunately, it plays out brilliantly.

The best feature on the mixtape comes in the form of A$AP Rocky, on the track “Freaky.” He sacrifices his usual sporadic delivery for a more chant like flow that becomes hypnotic as it progresses. Juicy and Rocky rap about the temptations of sexually seductive southern women, an unoriginal topic, but a wildly entertaining track none the less. Cardi B’s then takes the role of the seductress on “Kamasutra,” as she pleads for Juicy to beat it up until the sun rises. He reassures her that he’s up to the task, and I can already see this track turning the most conservative girls in the club into a group of untamed twerkers.

Juicy samples the throwback Three 6 track, “Ass & Titties,” for “Watch Money Fall” featuring Rick Ross and Project Pat. This anthemic banger is one of the best tracks on the mixtape. The beat is simply gorgeous, ghostly female vocals drifting around behind the percussions are enticing enough to warrant a click on the “repeat” button. Rick Ross doesn’t disappoint with an efficient and effective verse that outshines Juicy on the track, while Project Pat just has fun with it.

Although Juicy may be a veteran, he allows several young stars to shine (or, at least, he gives them the opportunity to do so– they don’t all seize it) on Highly Intoxicated; that’s a seeming theme with this project, and proof of Juicy’s constant ability to keep his hand on the pulse of a generation that’s half his age. Smokepurpp features on “D’Usse & Ciroc,” a song about mixing both Jay-Z’s and Diddy’s liquor brands, while XXXTentacion hops on “Show Time.” Smokepurpp employs a lackluster flow and XXXTentacion mumbles through his entire verse; neither rapper impresses or showcases their full potential, nor are they memorable in the grand scheme of the project. In comparison, newcomer and perhaps least well-known feature of the batch, YKom, slaughters “Up There.” A Tennessee native, Ykom’s name stands for “Young King of Memphis.” After listening to his acidic flow and uncanny delivery, he may actually deserve that title. 

Overall, Juicy J’s new project is everything you want it to be, but not everything you would expect. The crunk horrorcore sound is resurrected by the $uicide Boy$ flawlessly. Nostalgic Three 6 fans will either love the recreated sound, or else be bitter that it’s not with the original creators. Don’t take Highly Intoxicated too seriously, but don’t sleep on it either. At 42-years old (!), Juicy J shows no signs of slowing down. His delivery is as crisp as ever, his punchlines are still entertaining. He manages to pay homage, re-invent, and give a spotlight to the youth all at the same time. With an album in the works titled Rubba Band Business, Juicy is again harkening back to an era bygone, and thus, the rapper does well with Highly Intoxicated as a precursor, to both set the tone and direction. The feeling, presently, is that we may get a return to the 2013-Juicy height of popularity. Stay Trippy Mane!