While I love when Three 6’s Juicy J and his production partner DJ Paul create the type of riot-inciting, elbow-throwing, mosh pit music they shut down clubs throughout the south with for years. Still, there’s nothing, and I mean nothing, better than when they get their fingers dusty with a Willie Hutch record.
Writer, producer, arranger and all-around soul man Willie Hutch (born Willie Hutchinson) got his start singing in a doo-wop group as a teenager in Dallas, TX. Soon after high school, he moved back to his hometown of Los Angeles to start his professional music career. After a few years as a writer, producer and solo artist, he caught the eye of star-maker extraordinaire, Berry Gordy, and became a jack of all trades for Motown records in the 1970s. In addition to collaborating with Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, he recorded the soundtracks to seminal Blaxploitation films The Mack and Foxy Brown, and other solo albums that comprise the bulk of the source material that would be later ravaged by Juice, Paul and countless others.
And while other producers did Mr. Hutch justice, the Memphis crew’s combination of orchestral ’70s strings and smoky vocal samples with 808s and hi-hats just can’t be beat. In the pages that follow, we handpicked 10 of their best Willie Hutch hijacks. NORF! NORF!
1. Three 6 Mafia Feat. 8Ball & MJG and Young Buck – “Stay High” | “Tell Me Why Has Our Love Turned Cold”
History was made when Memphis legends 8Ball & MJG linked up with Three 6 and a then-promising Nashville native named Young Buck to create this classic addition to the long list of Hip-Hop songs about getting high (the edited version, “Stay Fly,” being a classic addition the long list of Hip-Hop songs about getting fresh).
2. Three 6 Mafia Feat. Project Pat – “Testin’ My Gangster/Poppin’ My Collar” | “Theme of the Mack”
Never afraid of going to the well multiple times for hooks, lyrics and even full songs, it’s no surprise that Juicy J and DJ Paul made good use of “Theme of the Mack.” On “Testin My Gangster,” the pace is harried, and the vocal samples of the background singers haunting. “Poppin My Collar,” on the other hand slows things down a bit and highlights the horns for a regal vibe more befitting a mack as cold as Goldie.
3. La Chat Feat. DJ Paul and Juicy J – “Ghetto Ballin’” | “Now That It’s All Over”
We love Gangsta Boo, but can’t forget about the hood’s Jessica Fletcher, La Chat. “Ghetto Ballin’” highlighted by a simple guitar lick, strings, and ticking hi-hats finds the trio riding as slow as the pour from a muddy Sprite bottle into a Styrofoam cup, so the whole hood can see.
4. Project Pat – “This What Money Do” | “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”
Crook By Da Book wasn’t Project Pat’s best album, but this is one of handful of standouts from the 2006 album. You should give “This What Money Do” a spin if only to hear Pat-tuh refer to himself as “The Ghetto Dr. Ruth.”
5. Project Pat – “You Like” | “(I’m Gonna) Hold On”
Another standout from Crook By Da Book is the road trip playlist necessity “You Like.” This is musical cruise control. With its repetitive but catchy hook augmented by bluesy guitars, organs and Willie’s throaty baritone, you’re guaranteed to arrive at your destination at the right time: when you damn well please.
6. Kingpin Skinny Pimp – “King Of Da Playaz Ball” | “Love Me Back”
Some of you may remember this from T.I.’s underrated mixtape The Leak with DJ Drama but, unsurprisingly, Juice and Paul had their syrup sticky hands on this record first. Grab your jewel encrusted goblet and pour up.
7. Project Pat Feat. Juicy J – “Kelly Green” | “Kelly Green”
The most recent entry on this list proves that the formula has aged well. “Kelly Green” is an ode to Juice and Pat’s favorite girl. They both have a date with her at 4:20? Awkward…