Just a month ago, rap was introduced to its latest star, Memphis rapper Jucee Froot, by way of her hard-hitting major label debut Black Sheep. You’d be forgiven for thinking she came out of nowhere, but she’s actually been a fixture of the underground rap scene for some time. In 2018, she was briefly affiliated with Rich Gang, but since then, she’s come into her own, proving she has no need for celebrity co-signs.
The first sign of her impending stardom: Even before Black Sheep came out, Jucee had been recruited for the soundtrack to one of 2019’s most-hyped movies, Birds Of Prey. After that, she attracted fellow burgeoning superstar Rico Nasty to appear in the video for her rambunctious single “Psycho (Remix).” Her latest accomplishment: She landed a song, sight unseen, on Issa Rae’s Twitter-favorite television show, Insecure this season.
Jucee’s come a long way in a relatively short time but she’s just getting started. Uproxx interviewed the Memphis firebrand about her quarantine activities, classic Memphis hip-hop, and her placements on the soundtracks of huge cultural moments like Birds Of Prey and Insecure.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, of course, we have to start pretty much every interview with how are you passing the time while you’re not allowed to go outside?
Recording, playing with my son, playing card games, board games, taking a stroll before it gets dark outside. Other than that, that’s really much it. I’m trying to stay off the internet as much as possible because it just seem like it’s just worse news every day. So, I’m just saying to myself.
When did you first realize that hip-hop was kind of what you wanted to do for a living, and how did you start to make that transition from whatever you were doing before to doing this now?
I’ve basically been around music, basically, since I got out the womb, type stuff. My mama put me in the choir when I was six, and I can form words in complete sentences, and everything. And when I was in there, they told me they liked my voice. So then my sisters, they always used to sing around me, like listening to Beyonce, and everything else.
But I liked to rap, though. I just always liked to rap more than anything. So from then on, I started playing the piano at like 10, and on up I start writing my songs and making beats and stuff on GarageBand. And then when I got old enough, I start just putting videos up on the internet, on Facebook and stuff, and staying consistent. And then I went viral a couple of times, but it wasn’t until I met my manager, who’s my boyfriend, I met his brother, and he made me just want to do music for real. And it got to a point where I start getting all the tattoos. And I got one on my face, and I got one on my neck, and after that, I couldn’t get a job. So I just had to make it with the music.
You’re from Memphis, your name’s Jucee, that can’t be a coincidence. How much of an impact did Juicy J, Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, and Gangsta Boo, of course, have on your musical style?
I was born in ’94, so, Three 6 Mafia is basically all that I know. DJ Paul, I spoke with him not too long ago, and he was telling me it was some people before him, but I feel like they were the people that like made everything pop. It was the way we said our words, just like Project Pat, got that sizzurp, and all of that type of stuff. I got Juicy J up on the album. As far as Gangsta Boo, she bigging me up. We’ve been conversating. I was supposed to get up with her when I was out there in L.A., but everything take like an hour and 30 minutes, so we never got to link up.
You did get to link up with Rico Nasty for the “Psycho” remix? What was the process and what does it mean to you to have that support and sisterhood from somebody who is already popping, in her own respect, coming back to show you that same sort of love?
It was good. It was nice. So, okay, I got signed, and that was one of the songs they wanted to roll with. And we was talking about features and her name got brought up. It’s not a lot of females that link together and do stuff like that.
With me being from Memphis, I’m used to people being bougie and stuck up when they on a certain platform. But she was not like that. She was so sweet. She was complimenting me. I was complimenting her. After we had got done doing one scene, she came to the trailer in there with me while I was smoking, and it’s like the vibe was just completely right.
I’m pretty sure the label had sent over the song to her and she had knocked it out, and sent it back. And I just loved her energy, and just loved her vibe, period. Working with Rico was real nice.
How did they get you to perform a song for the Birds Of Prey soundtrack? Did they bring you the concept, or did you turn something in and we’re going to just put it in the movie?
They was like, “Okay, we got this placement for you. We want to see what you can do.” It took me at least like a week or so to do it, because they had me make two different versions of it.
The first version I did, I just went straight in, just straight rapping. And the second version Daniel Pemberton had made the beat, and we was in contact with him, and this was a new sound for me. So while I was in the studio, he was like throwing out ideas, like just say some girly stuff, like girls can chant.
That’s basically what I did. And I didn’t curse on the second version. On the first version, I cursed. On the second version, I didn’t. So after everything I turned in, they wound up sending the stuff back and I loved it. They basically merged the first version and the second version together, and it just went good from there on. It was something new for me, and I was so frustrated in the booth. Like, what can I say? Because it’s so different from my regular sound. But, I’m real happy that I did it. I got new fans from overseas. They be hitting me up, they be making the videos to it, and I just loved the reaction.
At first, I was afraid that a lot of people was going to be like, “Oh, she’s not like that for real, and this and that.” But they really gravitated to it. So I was really excited about that. And my kids, they like [superhero] movies. Even though it was females, they still like [superhero] movies. And they said that they liked it.
That’s fire. What did you think of the movie? Did you enjoy it? I thought that they really did a great job but there are people that have complaints. Mainly, it comes from the fact that it’s all women.
Yeah, exactly. Because you know certain people, they just not used to that type of stuff. But I loved it. The fighting scenes, the mood swings from the females. You had the hardcore, and then you had the giggly, goofy one. Then you had the weird one that just came from out of nowhere. It was funny. It was filled with comedy, thriller, action, everything. Everything you can ask for, which is what I think women are made of. We can be sad, we can be happy. We can go crazy, we can fight, we can do whatever we want to. So I feel like basically, the movie was based on females, our personality, and just to show dudes we can do it. It was just a good movie for me to watch. And I felt like I was a part of the team watching the movie and everything.
Absolutely. Women are definitely capable of doing anything and that’s shown in no place more so than hip-hop. An interesting thing that came up in my research is that the XXL freshman 2020 nominees include 16 women, including yourself. When I say that, what does that make you think? What does that make you feel about women’s place in hip-hop?
I feel like we making an impression. Like now, the boys is finally paying attention. Y’all not the only ones that can do it no more. Now we coming in, and we not trying to overpower, but we just want to be heard. Even if people is calling it stripper rapping, pussy rapping, all of that stuff. We just want to be heard and have fun. Dudes done had enough fun, and enough time to voice their opinion. So seeing that many females on there, and I know a couple of them, and done linked up with them, it feel good, period, just to have just somebody else that’s your same gender who you can root for, and not hate on, and all of y’all is doing this together.
How do you feel like a Black Sheep?
I just say that the Black Sheep title really came from me and my manager just talking about it. I always felt like I was the black sheep of my family. I was the black sheep at my school. It’s just throughout life I always felt like I was the black sheep. People just made me an outcast because either I was too honest, or too outspoken, or I didn’t do everything like everybody else.
So, with this being my first major project dropping with a big label, I was like, “Okay. Well, we going to do something that’s going to be spoken for, that’s going to describe who I am, and how I feel.” And we just basically tried to bring it to life. Because all the tracks up on there, it ain’t the usual… it just ain’t the usual stuff that people been hearing.
It’s the stuff where not just women can relate to it, men can relate to it, too. So, I don’t feel like it’s a lot of that going on. I just went with Black Sheep and the labor had liked it when I threw the idea out there, and it was just something that we had tried, and it did real, real good. And, that’s mostly it.
How did your placement on Insecure come about?
I was a fan of the show already, but what had happened was, my A&R will call me and they’ll just be like, “How do you feel? Do you got a song for this?” Because they knew when I got signed, I had over a hundred and something unreleased songs.
So they know that I’m prepared for when they do need a placement. And they hit me, and I was excited about it. And that record had already been done. I didn’t even have to redo it. It was already done. And when they picked it, I was just excited, because that was one of the records that I really, really, really liked when I did it. They hit me up, I sent it over. In a matter of like two weeks, they hit me back and was like, “She loved it, we want to roll with this one.”
So what’s your goal for the next year? If you have everything go the way that you want it to go, what are some of the things that you’re going to be able to say this time next year, when we do another interview?
I don’t know. That’s the thing, with me, I ain’t really a materialistic person, or really worried about doing a lot of big stuff. I just want my kids to just… if I was to pass away or anything happen to me, I just want my kids to be paid up for life, and they kids to be paid up. I could say that I could see a Grammy or performing on BET Hip-Hop Awards or even playing in a TV show or something. I just want everybody to hear my music and be able to relate. And for some people that’s going through depression or whatever situation that they in, that my music can help them. That’s where I get my enjoyment from. I don’t really care for the trophies and all the other stuff that come with it.
Jucee Froot is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.