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February 2006
Going to the Oscars!!: An Interview with Three 6 Mafia

Going to the Oscars!!: An Interview with Three 6 Mafia

By Wilson Morales

When the Oscar nominations were announced, it was such a blessing that Terrence Howard got nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Craig Brewer's Hustle and Flow, but it was a shock when the song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" received a nomination as well for Best Song. It the first time in a long while that only three songs were selected and this one made the cut. Rap songs have been part of many films for years and the powers that be, or least the voting committee is starting to take notice. Eminem won an Oscar a few years ago for his song in the film, 8 Mile, and the group that wrote the song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" - Three 6 Mafia, could do the same as well. According to their bio, without compromising their dark image as a malevolent rap group from the South, Three 6 Mafia quickly evolved from a humble underground rap collective to a commercially successful dynasty by retaining their raw qualities and releasing countless albums under a number of monikers. Representing Memphis, TN, the group's current members are Juicy J, DJ Paul, and Crunchy Black. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Juicy J talks about how the song came about and the Oscar nomination.

Are you pretty excited about the nomination?

Juicy J: Man, we are super-excited.

Let's talk about when you first got the call to be a part of the film. How did that come about?

Juicy J: I spoke with John Singleton and he said he was coming down to Memphis. He was producing a movie with Craig Brewer, who's the director and writer. Johnny Phillips, who runs our distribution company called Seletcto Hits called me prior to that to say he knew a guy who was writing and directing a film in Memphis with John Singleton and was like, "Do you mind if I gave him your telephone number", and I was like, "Yeah." Craig called me up and was like, "Hey, can I come down and meet with you guys?" He came down to the studio and we met with him and we talked about his movie and he gave us a copy of the script and then he left. A week or so later, I met him again with John Singleton. I met them at a basketball game. After the game, we went down to a restaurant, sat down, had drinks, and talked about the movie. They wanted me to write a song for the movie about a pimp having a hard time, going through some situations; he's got a couple of girls working for him; they're making some money but enough money and he's trying to be a rapper and get a demo tape out there. It's hell and they needed me to write a song to go along with the subject. There you have it. We went in the studio and started writing the song. We then called everybody, from John Singleton to the studio. They brought the actors over and we told them we got the song.

Did you always have it in mind for Taraji (P.Henson) to sing the hook?

Juicy J: Nah. When we wrote the song, we just wrote it. I knew that Terrence Howard was going to be rapping, but I didn't think that Tararji was going to be singing it, but she convinced John and showed him she had the talent to sing the song, so we went to the studio, I played the song, and I had the lyrics on a piece of paper, and I pulled it out and started singing it, and they were like, "Hey man, that's it. That's what we need. That's it right there" and she was like, "I'm singing the hook". There you have it.

From the minute the film played at Sundance to when it played nationwide, when did it dawn on you that the song was a breakout hit?

Juicy J: That's what I had heard.

How much has the song done for your careers so far?

Juicy J: As you can see, we're going to the Oscars, baby!

Talk to me about the day you got the call that the song was nominated.

Juicy J: It was like 7:45 in the morning and Craig Brewer and I was asleep, and Craig's singing, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" and I'm like, "Hey Craig, what's going on?" and he's like, "You guys did not see it, you got nominated for an Oscar!" I almost past out. It's absolutely exciting. We're going to the Oscar to represent Memphis. I'm going to make Mama proud!

Will you perform it on stage?

Juicy J: Of course, I will be up there with DJ Paul, and Crunchy Black and Taraji (P. Henson)

Will you have clean up some of the lyrics?

Juicy J: Yes, when you're on the national spotlight like the Oscars, you gotta make you come correct and look good for Mama, Memphis, and the hip hop community.


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