Red Bull Sound Select ft The Black Lips + Juicy J

Arabia Mountain, the sixth studio album and fourth Vice Records release by the Black Lips, finds the hell-raising Atlanta quartet digging deep into the roots of their exposed-nerve sound and simultaneously exploring surprising new possibilities in their music – or as one of their new songs puts it, "lookin' in a new direction." Singer-guitarist Cole Alexander explains, "We tried to do what we do best, and keep it raw, but we also opened up to working with a producer and experimenting with new sounds. We tried to keep doing what we're doing, while expanding and growing at the same time."
The Lips – Alexander, singer-bassist Jared Swilley, singer-guitarist Ian St. Pé, and singer-drummer Joe Bradley – had never collaborated with a producer before embarking on their current album. This time, however, the band set out to work with one of the producers on their short list: Mark Ronson, the English producer known for both his sharply-honed solo albums Version and Record Collection and his production work for the likes of Sean Paul, Nas, Adele, Kaiser Chiefs, Duran Duran, Lily Allen, and most notably U.K. soul-pop diva Amy Winehouse's international breakthrough Back to Black.
"When that came out, we thought, for mainstream pop, this has a cool retro sensibility that we appreciate," Cole says. "We knew he had the potential to get an older sound. We're not purists who just want to sound old, but there are certain recording techniques that were used a long time ago that sound really good, and can be used in today's context. We felt he understood that."
While the Lips have by no means turned their backs on the storming punk and garage-rock that is the core of their confrontational style, working with Ronson allowed them to work at a more relaxed pace and refine their song-oriented side. "We've gone in and done a whole album in a week," Cole says. "After our last album, we plateaued with that approach. We decided to spend a lot of time and actually work on this record. It ended up taking a year and a half, which is the longest we've ever spent. We had some good pop songs in the past, but they got buried in the swampy production. Beefing up the production made a difference. It was a little outside the box for us, and a little outside Mark's box as well."
Although the majority of Arabia Mountain was cut with Ronson at MetroSonic Recording Studios in Brooklyn, two songs, "Go Out and Get It" and "Bicentennial Man," were recorded by Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter in Atlanta. Cole says, "We did those two songs on four-track cassette, and that's old-school Black Lips – that's how we first started recording. I just really like cassette sounds. It's really compact and punchy."
Arabia Mountain careens through a typically wild catalog of subject matter: touring the Dali Museum, high ("Modern Art"), backwards masking and double suicide ("Mad Dog"), the superhero as molestation victim ("Spidey's Curse"), the joys and perils of uncooked food ("Raw Meat"), the saga of the Atlanta Braves' team mascot ("Noc-A-Homa"). "We went further with this record than we ever did in the past," Cole says. "If you listen to the lyrics to some songs, they're a little deeper, I think."
While straight-ahead revved-up rock is not in short supply, the new collection pushes the band's stylistic boundaries. "Family Tree" found its musical inspiration in a Bolivian folk tune heard on a compilation produced by the eclectic Atlanta label Dust-to-Digital. "Dumpster Dive" is a full-on plunge into Rolling Stones-style country. And "Don't Mess My Baby" uses tribal drumming to convert a song that began life as Bobby Fuller-styled pop-rockabilly into something approaching South African township jive.

The year 2006 was owned by Three 6 Mafia, when the Memphis, TN group reinvented the rap wheel by winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Hard Out Here For a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow). The trio already had a healthy collection of hits under their belts, as tracks like "Sippin On Some Syrup," "Stay Fly," "Poppin' My Collar," and "Slob On My Nob" were carefully crafted proverbial club bangers. 2000's When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 and 2005's Most Known Unknown were Certified Platinum, adding yet another notch in Three 6 Mafia's successful belt. But what happens after that? Sure, the mainstream radar is piqued, but how do you keep the world's attention? For front man producer/rapper Juicy J, it was taking things back to square one. J spent the years that followed creating a street team, shooting videos, and releasing mixtapes (along with the album Last 2 Walk) all in the name of the collective Three 6 buzz. What he found though was a burgeoning solo career that transformed him from one part of a colossal whole to a standalone superstar. As Juicy J readies his second solo album [Stay Trippy], he takes his knowledge of the game and of music to next level trippiness.

"I'm a producer, I never considered myself a rapper," admits Juicy J née Jordan Lonski Houston. "So I always kept my ear to the street and always tried to find out what was the next big thing, what was hot." When the North Memphis native released his debut solo project, 2009's Chronicles Of the Juice Man, he kept the talent localized, with features including former Three 6 Mafia member Crunchy Black and J's older brother Project Pat. The album was Certified Gold, but that wasn't enough for the Juice Man. He continued to release mixtapes year after year, dropping a whopping three mixtapes in 2011 (including the critically acclaimed Blue Dream & Lean). Consistently checking for new talent, J would meet newer Rap acts on Twitter and forge relationships. It was there that Juicy J met Wiz Khalifa and the result of that friendship was a coveted spot in Wiz's Taylor Gang. While Wiz built a solid foundation out of his Taylor Gang army, Juicy J is building one of his own. Welcome to the "Trippy Movement."

The Trippy Movement originated out of Juicy J's decision to keep his music real to himself. "Everything changed once we got the Academy Award. A lot of money kicked in," J recalls. "[Three 6 Mafia] went through a transition where the label was trying to tell us how to make the music, and they wanted the music to go in this kind of a way, in a Pop way and all this extra stuff. You go through those transitions when you've been in the game a long time. You just grow." For Juicy J, though, the choice was to swim the mainstream to the tune of the music he wanted to make. As for the origin of the word trippy? "A lot of people connect the Trippy Movement with drugs, but it can be however you feel," he says. "I mean, I always say being trippy, you do what you want when you want. So it's whatever you feel, what makes you happy. Kind of like being rebellious. It's being like, 'Fuck everything else, I'm going to just do me!'" His self-funded movement proved to be fruitful in more ways than one. From selling "We Trippy Mane" t-shirts on his website (thejuicyj.com) to cups and other merchandise, Juicy J found an extra entrepreneurial income he never planned on making.

As he maintains that Stay Trippy mantra, Juicy J embarks on his next solo project. The album will arrive in 2013 via Dr. Luke's Kemosabe Records in conjunction with Sony/Columbia. "It's going to be pretty much like my last mixtape, Blue Dream & Lean. Me being ratchet," he promises. The project is more focused, as Juicy J is in total control, and being given what he likes to consider the freedom to do whatever he wants creatively. His forward thinking production-cap remains on as J crafts a project that still appeals to Three 6 Mafia members, but speaks to Hip-Hop's next generation as well.

Collaborations include The Weeknd, Chris Brown, Yelawolf, Bei Maejor, Trey Songz, along with Taylor Gang affiliates Lola Monroe, Chevy Woods, and of course Wiz Khalifa. The flagship single "Bandz A Maker Her Dance" has already made its rounds, originating on Juicy J's Twitter page. "I put 'Bandz A Make Her Dance' out myself on Twitter and it popped on the Billboard charts and it was climbing the radio charts," he explains. "I'm doing everything that I want to do. This is me. This is Juicy J individually as a person. This is me, all me. So that's what I'm giving. I'm giving the fans me, this is me personally." The next step is the 2050 Tour with Wiz Khalifa, tackling 50 cities in North America. "I mean if I got something on the charts, I need to be out here shaking hands and kissing babies," Juicy J jokes. After that it's back on track to complete his album.

Juicy J's two-decade run in Hip-Hop has brought him to this very moment. While bridging the gap between old and new fans under one trippy umbrella, Juicy J has cracked a code most veteran rappers struggle to decipher. Making uncompromised music that anyone can relate to is this producer/rapper/businessman's forte. It might be hard out here for a pimp, but Juicy J makes it look easy. Running Sony Music is part of his five-year plan. With ambition like his, it's bound to happen. "Why not stack millions on top of millions?" Juicy J says of his foolproof formula. "That's when you get the billions."

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Red Bull Sound Select ft The Black Lips + Juicy J with Fabo, Noot D' Noot, 4-ize, Sofa King Evil, Divine Interface

Friday, July 26 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Terminal West