This week’s edition of The Playlist carries a little backstory to it. The year is 2006. LeBron James hit a Game 5 buzzer beating shot over the Washington Wizards and Juicy J, along with Three 6 Mafia, were still trippy from their Oscar win for “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” at the 78th Academy Awards. Yours truly was finally living — and making a living — in Brooklyn and nothing could be sweeter.

Those golden memories are why co-curating with the Memphis rap icon is really cool. The first time hearing Juicy J on a track was punk before the likes of Trippie Redd and Rico Nasty made waves doing it. “I was turned up in L.A. with a lot of crazy weed, some women, and was recording,” Juicy shares about his “trippy, mane” adlib in a quick call with me. “I was high and we were having a good time when I just said it [laughs]. The word ‘trippy’ is an old-school word, did you know that?” His latest effort, The Hustle Continues, channels vintage Juice Manne and showcases just how influential his music still is in today’s ever-changing musical climate.

“I put everything in my new album that gave me that ‘90s feel,” Juicy J tells ESSENCE via phone. “I wanted to go back to that space in time where what I was producing had such an impact on my career.” With hometown features on The Hustle Continues such as NLE Choppa, Young Dolph, and Taylor Gang ONIFC Wiz Khalifa, The Playlist is encouraging you to come along for the ride.

Check out our impressively curated playlist below, plus stream these tripped-out tracks on Apple Music and Spotify.

1. Project Pat — “Chickenhead” (ft. La Chat & Three 6 Mafia)

To jumpstart this whole thing, Juicy J chooses an oldie-but-goodie with Project Pat’s ode to scandalous women, “Chickenhead”. Charting at #1 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart in 2001, Pat’s brother says of the track, “This song is an old-school classic that still goes to this day that I had a hand in producing.”

2. 2 Chainz — “Quarantine Thick” (ft. Big Lotto)

Fit for a socially-distanced house party, 2 Chainz offers a bouncy number from his recently released So Help Me God project. This salute to extra pandemic pounds features Big Lotto and is a party anthem that will make you crank up the volume and turn up in your own free time.

3. Three 6 Mafia — “Stay Fly”

“I’ve been trying to catch the old vibes and flows,” Juice says of The Hustle Continues. “‘Stay Fly’ put me back in that familiar space of producing and this song was such a big impact in my career. Me and [DJ] Paul did this one, and I put these classic sounds on the new record.”

4. Deanté Hitchcock — “I Got Money Now” (ft. J.I.D)

If you’re unfamiliar with Deanté Hitchcock just check out his high-profile feature on Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III. Following up on such a major look, the RCA-signed talent connects with JID to reflect on past loves and failed relationships on “I Got Money Now”. I love this track a lot and recommend playing So Much For Good Luck for a deeper listen to this versatile artist and talent.

5. OutKast — “13th Floor”

Moments of clarity happen to us all and for Juicy J, this OutKast number is considered inspiration to the award-winning rap legend. “‘13th Floor’ gave me the energy to record this new record. I’m a dad now and there so much family man vibes on here. This is a stay hydrated record, a thank-you-God-for-keeping-me-on-this-earth record.”

6. Phony Ppl — “On My Shit” (ft. Joey Bada$$)

Phony Ppl, the five-piece powerhouse band from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, link up with Joey Bada$$ for a Kings County collaboration called “On My Shit”. The single follows the group’s poppin’ cut, “Fkn Around,” which featured Megan Thee Stallion. A spirited ode to chasing breezy vibes, lead singer Elbie Thrie insouciant, yet flavorful verses balances out Joey’s effortless rhymes. Keep your notifications on to learn what’s coming next from Phony Ppl in 2021.

7. Busta Rhymes — “Look Over Your Shoulder” (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

“This song is hard AF,” Juicy says about his fourth selection for The Playlist. “I play this song 100 times.” The Busta Rhymes-led audio event features Kendrick Lamar and continues the throwback theme for the Juice Manne. “The bars from these two are incredible. This is vintage Busta and is just genius. It took me back to when I was a kid, growing up with a passion, broke as hell with a dream.”

8. MUZI — “A Day in Paris”

To take a hard right and keep the same classic grooves, my pick, “A Day in Paris” by MUZI is just right for the beginning come-down moments. Produced and starring the South African producer-songwriter, MUZI has been on everyone’s must-hear list since dropping 2018’s Afrovision. With songs like the ones on his latest — Zeno — this is a standout song to add to your list of worldly sounds.

9. Dr. Dre — “High Powered” (ft. RBX, The Lady of Rage & Daz Dillinger)

To close out Juicy J’s first co-curating gig for ESSENCE’s The Playlist, he digs in the crates to share a deep cut from Dr. Dre’s first opus smash hit. “I just locked in on the sound with this one for ‘The Hustle Continues,’” he says. “RBX, Rage, Dre, they’re all incredible on this song and it made me inspired to go crazy with my beats. The album is like my ‘Chronic’ and I can showcase the skills and work I’ve put in over my time in the game.”

10. NLE Choppa — “Picture Me Grapin’”

Budding star NLE Choppa made headlines when he connected with Erykah Badu and has a spiritual awakening. Focusing on a “more positive outlook,” the Memphis architect behind the “Shotta Flow” is leveling up on this Kool & the Gang-sampled cut, which will realign your chakras and keep negative people away the more you play this song.

Catch new editions of ESSENCE’s The Playlist on Fridays and follow @KevitoClark on Apple Music and Spotify to stream this week’s entry uninterrupted.

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