Working out why I like Gucci understudy OJ Da Juiceman hasn’t come easy to me. On one hand, dude is almost like an elaborate joke, just some ad-lib crutching no-name co-signed by the right ATL people to see exactly what we’re willing to accept in our post-Jeezy, post-snap rap landscape. Juice’s ad-libs sound like Chappelle’s Prince being punched in the gut, and his flow is so flagrantly one-note it’s basically celebratory. But on the other, Juice has emerged as a dude to watch in 09, another in a lengthening line of trap-not-rap stars reveling in the understated brilliance of post-D4L everyman rap.
If Juice is not a pure Gucci facsimile then he’s unabashed about copping style. He loops his raps in that same singsong playground cadence that Gucci settles into when he’s really got a foothold in a beat, but Juice’s flow is a little more stilted, and in a way it’s kind of got the same lockstep qualities of a marching army battalion — predictable yet dope. If anything, his songs are hypnotic in a way, at once because they all kinda sound the same and because Juice raps non-stop. The tape has a propulsive quality that basically every other mixtape lacks these days, and Juice raps his ass off like rap might get him somewhere, which I guess isn’t totally unique but it still jumps out off the speakers.
As far as the rapping goes, Juice doesn’t stray far from trapping and its benefits (also touches on fucking), but he’s got a trap star’s flair for making the old seem just a little bit new again, or at the very least still (dope boy) fresh. And maybe most importantly, he sounds like he’s having a great time rapping, and if that’s not his most redeeming quality then it’s eminently notable, cause I’m not getting tired of ATL good times rap anytime soon.
BONUS FOR BUDDING OJ DA JUICE FANBOYS: The FADER meets up with Juice at a French restaurant or something and let’s dude speak his mind. He seems like a good dude. More people should do this.