Juicy J and Pi’erre Bourne may be nearly two decades apart, but they have a lot more in common than you might think. They’re both rapper-producers with distinctive sounds who use simple metaphors and flexible bars to create fun soundscapes. And even though Bourne was a year and a half old when Juicy’s band Three 6 Mafia released their influential 1995 debut style mystical, both men are pioneers who shaped their respective eras of rap in their image – Juicy with his menacing Memphis swing, Pi’erre with his candy-colored take on contemporary trap music.
Unfortunately, their first collaborative project Space age pimp proves that Juicy and Pi’erre, who raps on every song, are a tough match. Lyrically, they’re at eye level: smoking copious amounts of weed, lounging with women around the world, cocking stiff people trying to gamble with their money. But it’s hard to ignore that the album‘s stylistic attributes strongly suit Juicy’s sound over Pi’erre’s. Atmosphere is an important element in the music of the two men, and while Juicy inserted himself into the music of Pi’erre impactful dreamscapes long before, Pi’erre struggles to stand out above the gothic twist that dominates this album.
Juicy has been playing hi-hats, claps, kick drum, ominous samples and MIDI instruments for decades, and here they appear on almost every track. Songs like lead single “This Fronto” and “Uhh Huh” are expansive and gritty, with bass deep enough to blast away grime from a dirty car. Juicy is in his comfort zone – which isn’t surprising, considering he’s the album’s executive producer – and he tells tales of gun-running and silly sex puns (“C She’s a good girl so before she eats that dick she’s gonna say thanks” on those beats on autopilot.
On the other hand, Pi’erre’s airy melodies and pun-heavy bars are not suitable for this kind of production. Take “Smokin’ Out,” which opens with juicy muted vocals that cut through synths and a punishing low end. Pi’erre’s croons are quickly swallowed up by the drums, crumpling like used chocolate bar wrappers. The melodies he chooses often match the beat exactly (“Uhh Huh”) or, as on “Who Get High”, they attempt to harmonize and weave aimlessly through the verses. There are a handful of moments where his vocals equate to the track, including his verses on “BBL” and closer “Unsolved Mystery,” but for the most part his presence is odd and distracting. At times, it even sounds like his voice was taken entirely from a different project and repurposed over the remains of Juicy’s. The commotion continues.
This is especially odd since Pi’erre and Juicy share production credits for each song. Too bad that one of the most influential producers of this generation is hardly present behind the boards here, because the zany pop of Pi’erre’s solo and production work is non-existent on Pimp. Whether that’s by design or coincidence is beside the point. Juicy J and Pierre Bourne clearly had a great time doing this projectbut Space age pimp is below the 8Ball & MJG song for which it is named. Unlike this duo, Juicy and Pi’erre’s chemistry is on a basic level. They’re left hanging in the wind like mismatched car dice, two colored halves that are part of a different whole.