"The song never got no radio play 'til now," says Juicy J of "Slob on My Knob": He released it about 25 years ago, but his voice couldn't really be heard rapping it until a recent appearance on a remix of G-Eazy's "No Limit." "It was always an underground song, you know?"
With the ribald rhymes and sing-song cadence of a "Dice" Clay filthy nursery rhyme gone to the Dirty South, Juicy J's "Slob on My Knob" would be an unlikely radio staple in any era. Originally released on his murky Memphis mixtape Volume 6 in 1993 and re-recorded (as "Slobs on the Knob") for a 12-inch by Three 6 Mafia's crunked-out side-hustle Tear Da Club Up Thugs in 1999, it spent decades making the rounds on places where the FCC had no control: tape-trading, mixes, clubs and the Internet.
Now, the early tune from an Academy Award-winning songwriter is all over the radio, an influence powering three different songs currently in the Hot 100. A$AP Ferg's "Plain Jane" (peak position: Number 26) rewrites its martial cadence to shout out his jewelry and Tourneau watch. G-Eazy and Cardi B flip some of its lines on "No Limit" (peak position: Number Four). Most outrageously, Future gleefully croaks "slob on me knob" on "King's Dead" (peak position: Number 23), the Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar and James Blake collabo for the smash soundtrack to Black Panther. Meanwhile, waves of blown-out, scuzzy SoundCloud rap – XXXTentacion, Lil Pump, Smokepurrp – is updating the lo-fi sounds that artists like Juicy J, DJ Spanish Fly, DJ Squeeky and more let loose in early Nineties Memphis.
How did the dirty raps of an 11th grader jotting rhymes in a history class more than 20 years ago end up as the most influential rap song of 2018? Rolling Stone checked in with him … and did our job.
So, you wrote "Slob on My Knob" in 11th grade?
Eleventh grade at Northside High School. The teacher was named Papa Owens. Shouts out to him. He was a great teacher, man. I was just bullshittin', you know what I mean? You know, you write some things and, you know, you don't really take it seriously. I just talked about stuff that went around in my neighborhood. I just consider myself just bullshitting with it.
Were you actually getting laid in 11th grade or were you just imagining it at that point?
[Laughs.] I probably imagined it, you know what I'm saying? You couldn't get laid in my neighborhood – not unless you had some money. All the drug dealers was getting all the girls. I didn't have any money. Once I got a car or something, then I started banging a few chicks. Once I got some money [laughs]. I had to get my money up, you know what I'm saying? They didn't want to talk to no broke dudes. I was broke.
Do you remember the actual writing process?
Yeah, I remember it like yesterday. I didn't give a damn about school [laughs]. I used to write raps in school. So while the teacher was teaching … I was like, "Man, I'mma write me a rap." It was history class. I just wrote, "Slob on my knob, like corn on the cob, check in with me..." I wrote like the first verse, and I came back the next day and, while the teacher was talking, I finished the second verse. I wrote it and just put it in my history book.
In the book itself?
Yeah, I put the rap in my history book, and I came back the next day, and I opened the book up, and it was the same rap, and I just wrote the second verse.
And you recorded it on a 4-track.
Yeah, yeah, a 4-track at my mama's house. She didn't want me to have loud music, so I had to record over a 4-track with headphones on. I never had big speakers in my home, 'cause my mama, she was like, "Nah, we ain't having all that rap junk!" I recorded on headphones on the bunk bed. Because me and Project Pat, we brothers, so I slept on the top bunk. Actually, my art teacher sold me the 4-track. It cost me a hundred bucks to get it. I put the 4-track on top of the bed, and I had a little ol' cheap mike and I recorded it. … You know, I had a vision to get us up out the neighborhood with my music, and we did it, man. All praise to the man upstairs, man. Anything's possible.
Did you do all of the Volume 6 tape on your 4-track?
I did everything. Everything was done on that 4-track.
A lot of the stuff that was going around Memphis at the time – and certainly your stuff in particular – has that murky, waterlogged, cassette sound. For you, how much of that was an artistic choice and how much of it was just, "Look, I just have a 4-track. This is what it's gonna sound like."
That's what it was. I have a 4-track, this is what it's gonna sound like, I got a drum machine, this is what it's going to sound like. … I recorded it on a crazy microphone. A cheap microphone, probably cost 20 bucks. Maybe somebody gave it to me or something. You know, when I first started DJing, when I first started learning how to scratch and mix, I used to use ... I used to have a bread wrapper. You ever seen like a bread wrapper, you know, like on the Wonder Bread? You'd get the [twist tie] and it's in metal. That was for my needle, because I didn't have no money to get a needle, so I took a bread wrapper and made a needle out of it. … I had a Fisher Price turntable somebody gave me and I just kind of made a needle out of the metal part. I … bended it and bended it until … I broke a piece off and I made a little small needle out of it. … I had a couple of old records, and that's how I learned how to scratch. It's crazy, right?
I was DJing at this club every Sunday night. The club was called Excalibur. I played the song one time, I came back the next week and I was – you know, back in the day they had crates of records. I walked into the club, and loading my crates of records up, getting ready to DJ. And people was coming in the club and they was like, "Yo, yo, yo, Juicy, man, play that song you played last week!" And I was like, "What? What song?" They were like, "Slob on the Knob!' I was like, "You like that shit?" They were like, "Yeah, man. We love that shit." So, I played it for the second time in the club and the whole club went crazy that night. I had to play it like five times that night.
Did you even have a plate of it or did you play it on a cassette?
A cassette tape. I didn't have no records. I ain't had no record deal at the time. … Every time I would DJ, I'd always bring a cassette player with me, 'cause I would play some of my original music. I might play one of my songs I created, and just putting it in the mix with the other stuff.
Were you out of school by the time you started doing tapes?
No, I wasn't out of school. I used to sell tapes in high school. … I was kind of popular around it my neighborhood, you know. They used to call me "the Notorious DJ Juicy J." I used to DJ, like, high school parties and stuff. I would DJ at the school dance and stuff like that.
This murky broken sound that was a part of your limitations and the equipment you were forced to us used, this is now something that artists everywhere are aspiring to sound like.
Yeah, it's the wave.
Do you know Lil Pump and XXXTentacion and all these guys who are doing the new version of the sound?
I like both of those guys' music. I got actually a song with XXXTentacion. I did a song with him I put on my mixtape. Yeah, man. I love it man. … They keep the music alive. They keep people interested in the music. You know? Like I say, man, all praises due to the man upstairs, man. Who's to say your music is gonna be around for 20 something years? I can walk in the club and rap the same stuff I've been rapping for 20 years and the club will go crazy, like it never left. … It's crazy, man.
You re-recorded "Slob on My Knob" for the Tear Da Club Up Thugs record in '99. Why did you want to do a cleaned up version of it?
I mean, it was so popular underground, and I felt like, by us having a major deal, it may get it somewhere by putting it on a major album. Like it never had been on a record. It was a cassette tape. That was the first time it was actually on wax, you know? I just recreated everything. … I think more people started hearing it once we put it on that and it's always been a crazy popular record.
When did you realize it was gonna be this important watershed moment for hip-hop?
I think when I went to Japan. It was like around 2008, and I did the song, and … they went nuts. I was like, "Maaan ... This song probably gonna be around forever." I know people in the States know about the song, but I was just, like, way over in Japan they know the words to "Slob on the Knob." It just fucked me up, you know what I'm saying? I'm in Japan and people knowin' who I am. I was walking down the street to go into McDonalds, and they walked up to me like, "Yo, Juicy J!" And I was like, "Y'all know who I am? Damn."
Are you noticing Three 6 Mafia's influence on the financial end of things?
Oh, yeah. My publishing company called me and said, man, they ain't seen this in a long time. It's like, every day it's a sample coming through. Every day it's like more than one sample. Two or three samples. People are trying to get them cleared, which is great, you know?
There were a few artists who flipped it before A$AP Ferg. Lil Wayne was the most notable one.
I never thought that somebody would actually go back and grab that song and try to redo that song, you know? Like I said, when I wrote that song, it was funny to me. … I was just doing some shit, I wasn't really trying to create something. I wasn't concentrating at all. I just wrote that shit, and it was like nothing. It was like the most easiest rap I wrote in my life, you know?
When did you hear about the A$AP Ferg version?
They called about clearing the sample. And when I heard it, I was like, "Damn." … Ferg's my guy, man. He came by the studio not too long ago and I cooked him up some fresh beats, you know what I'm saying, for his new album. … I love the song. The song is turnt. It's a hit.
One thing that's interesting, too, is like, Ferg is a New York guy, G-Eazy is a Bay Area guy, it's definitely gone way beyond the idea of "southern rap" at this point.
Oh, yeah. It's on a whole 'nother level.
What are you working on right now?
I got a new album I'm working on. I don't even know the name of it yet. It's gonna be inspired from the Nineties stuff. I'm taking it back, back to the "Slob on the Knob" days, and I got my own label, Mo Faces. I got two new artists I signed. These guys are like amazing. They kill records, man. They kill songs. Henry A-Z is one of them. He's out of Boston. And the other artist is YKOM. He's from Memphis, Tennessee, my hometown.
The journey this song has taken is just unbelievable. Something so underground and so bedroom could be on the soundtrack to a Disney movie about 25 years later.
It's incredible, man. I mean, like, it shocks me everyday. I can't go nowhere without doing this song. I don't care where I'm at. Wherever I'm at, it could be any city, any state, any country, whatever, they want to hear that song. ... It's like every time I do that song, the whole crowd always get lit, always turn up.