Juicy J – Blue Dream & Lean 2
Juicy J’s career resurgence can all be traced back to the original Blue Dream and Lean mixtape. Three 6 Mafia’s status had taken a sharp downturn as the limelight of their Oscar win in 2006 began to dim. The group began to go their separate ways as Juicy J established himself as a solo act. 2011’s Blue Dream and Lean turned the Memphis legend into a full-fledged star once again as the mixtape full of party cuts and truck-rattling bangers recaptured the attention of past fans and introduced him to an audience oblivious to his legacy as a co-founder of Three 6 Mafia.
Juicy J’s legend willingness to reinvent himself, complete with (a) new sound predominantly helmed by Lex Luger, generated great results. He linked up with Wiz Khalifa, joined Wiz’s Taylor Gang label, released the hit single “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and dropped the well-received album Stay Trippy. Fast forward to the present and a sequel to Blue Dream and Lean obviously got the fans excited. Unfortunately, Blue Dream and Lean 2 fails to live up to its predecessor. Blue Dream and Leans 2 is a pedestrian effort at best, and a stark contrast to the original. The production is rarely captivating and the content is stale. No one expects Juicy J to be a wordsmith, but it seems like he’s just going through the motions here. Songs like “Throw Dem Racks” and “Don’t Trust” come across as Juicy J doing an imitation of himself as he runs through familiar tropes in his rhymes.
The bulk of the mixtape is a chore to get through as most tracks feel like throwaways from Juicy J’s upcoming album THC: The Hustle Continues. Anyone hoping for a Juicy J and Lex Luger reunion will be disappointed as Luger contributes no production to the mixtape. And despite the involvement of such producers (as) Mike Will Made It and Sonny Digital, it’s Juicy J and his co-producers Lil’ Awree and Crazy Mike who deliver the most noteworthy beats. A glaring problem on the mixtape is buzz worthy guests like Rae Sremmurd and Future, who fail to inject any life into their respective collaborations with Juicy J. In fact, Juicy’s long-time collaborator and brother Project Pat is the only rapper to truly bolster this project with his input.
The second half of Blue Dream and Lean 2 supplies the few positive moments of the listening experience. “All I Need” is a bit of a roller-coaster ride, but longtime fans will be pleased to hear Juicy J finally address his status with Three 6 Mafia on the final verse. “Then the problems started picking up, posse started splitting up / People started switching up, we still not giving up / I love ‘em though, we been through it all / They’re my brothers though, and that’s some real shit / We weren’t always rich, we didn’t have a pot to piss / Hustle harder than a bitch, slanging records like they bricks / From the ground to the throne, it’s been a hell of a trip /Bring me one more drank, while I sit and reminisce,” raps Juicy J.
“Smoked Out Dabbed Out” is a Three 6 Mafia throwback with its lo-fi sound and tweaked version of the group’s “smoked out, loced out” chant in the chorus. The track also features a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony sample and Juicy J shouting out the group at the end, a pleasant surprise for those familiar with Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs’ past beef. Juicy J admirably attempts to address the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner on “Don’t”, but the track feels out of place among the rest of the mixtape’s content. Juicy does craft a gem on the soulful “Do It to Em’”, which features songstress Elle Varner putting her spin on Blondie’s “One Way or Another.”
In the end, Blue Dream and Lean 2 can be added to a long line of sequels that never should have been made. Positioning this mixtape as follow-up to such an impressive release as the original put some unreasonable expectations on it, but the project fails to measure up to even Juicy J’s second-rate work. Fans must hope Juicy J is saving his best material for THC: The Hustle Continues because Blue Dream and Lean 2 is a dramatic decline for the Juice Man.2.5 out of 5
by Justin Ivey
You can download Blue Dream & Lean 2 here