I am a self-proclaimed supporter of West Coast rap over pretty much every other style in the genre. When I listen to rap, I like it to have intellectual lyrics and different beats, something that artists like Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Earl Sweatshirt provide to their fans. This being said, I live in upstate New York, so it comes with the territory that I’ve listened to and am aware of the style of rap this side of the nation has to offer. One of the biggest East Coast rap groups today is Taylor Gang, led by notorious stoner Wiz Khalifa. Taylor Gang has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and now fellow TG member Juicy J has released his highly anticipated solo album, Stay Trippy. Having listened to his earlier work and features with Wiz, I was excited to see what the MC could accomplish with a solo effort. The quickest answer is: not much.
While Juicy himself doesn’t break any new ground or have any incredible verses, Stay Trippy isn’t a bad album. Its biggest problem actually lies in its reliance on the artists that feature on certain tracks. Almost every single feature outshines Juicy, and whether it’s from Yelawolf’s furious verse on “Gun Plus a Mask” or Justin Timberlake’s smooth singing on “The Woods”, Juicy is brought to the background. While this can be understandable on one or two tracks of the lengthy 19-song LP, it happens way too often. Even Wiz Khalifa, who is far from a lyrical genius, is the highlight of two of the three tracks he’s featured in! For a solo album, this presents a lot of problems that are hard to fix, and unfortunately, none of the songs that don’t feature another artist fix these flaws.
The tracks with just Juicy J range from decent to laughable and none of them are better than any of the tracks with guest artists. The worst offender is “So Much Money”, which showcases one of the dumbest choruses my ears have ever had the displeasure to hear. While most of the lyrics are simple and usually about smoking kush and having sex, Juicy gets deeper with songs like “Gun Plus a Mask” and “One of Those Nights.” These tracks are shining examples of what he could accomplish after leaving the safety of his generic lyrics, but he only follows through on this example on a few of the other songs.
This brings me to one of his biggest selling points: the beats. Juicy J fans don’t tend to linger over the lyrics, but like his accessible beats and easy-to-remember choruses. The best example of this would probably be “Bandz a Make Her Dance”. For the most part the beats on Stay Trippy are pretty generic Taylor Gang fare – you can bump almost every song with the right speakers, and the style fits Juicy’s rhythm and voice so it works almost all of the time. The only time the beats hurt the album is when they start to blend together, as they all have pretty similar sounds.
All in all, Stay Trippy isn’t a bad album. It’s just a bad Juicy J album. The entire album feels like he decided to invite all of his friends to feature lyrics just to outshine him. That’s not to say he’s a terrible artist, but for Juicy to have any success as a solo artist, he’s going to need to rely on himself, not others. There are sure winners on the album, and most of it is catchy thanks to his simple yet addictive choruses. It’s far from terrible, but Stay Trippy could certainly be a lot better. Juicy J is a good rapper; he just needs to step out of his box a little bit and show people what he can do on his own.