& Flow was one of 2005’s best films, and while it’s not getting honored enough at this year’s Oscars, the recognition it is getting is pretty exciting. And historic: the Three 6 Mafia, representing Memphis, Tennessee, will be the first ever hip hop act to play the show, performing It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp. Eminem was nominated for Lose Yourself a few years back, but he declined to play.

Earlier this week I had a chance to spend a couple of minutes on the phone with Jordan "Juicy J" Houston of the Three 6 Mafia. I always get nervous when I’m interviewing music people (I feel like I understand film people pretty well, so I never get nervous. But I’m just a fan of music, not a student or critic of it, so I always look at musicians as inherently amazing and impressive), but this was worse than usual. Any amount of cred I had when it came to hip hop was on the line with this interview – and I totally blew it. Listening to what a silly Caucasian I am on the tape made transcribing a bitch, but at least I didn’t really make a fool out of myself and ask about sizzurp.

Q: How is exciting is it to be playing the Oscars?

Juicy: I am so excited, man. I feel like I’m in a dream, you
know what I’m saying? A beautiful dream and I don’t want to wake up.

Q: When you were just starting out did you ever imagine it
would come to this, that you would be playing in front of one the biggest
audiences on TV?

Not in a million years, man, did I ever think we would ever get
nominated for anything.

Q: This is pretty heavy because you’re the first hip hop act
to ever play the Oscars – you’re making history here.

Juicy: I know, man, which makes me real nervous. We got a
lot on our shoulders, but we going to handle it, man. We’re ready.

Q: The Three 6 Mafia has a reputation for being really
hardcore. Are the Oscars ready for that?

Juicy: I think they’re ready, man, because it’s going to be
a clean show. We changed the lyrics up, man. I think it’s going to be off the
chain. We did clean shows before, for BET and MTV, and this will be no
different. There’s going to be positive energy on the stage, it’s going to be
off the chain.

Q: Is Terence Howard going to be performing with you?

Juicy: No, Terence Howard will not be performing with us,
but Taraji Henson will. She’s a great singer.

Juicy: Oh yeah, she can sing her ass off.

Q: Did director Craig Lucas come to you and ask for a new song, or
did you have a song already?

Juicy: Craig came to us and said, ‘Hey man, I want you and
DJ Paul to write a song. The movie is about a pimp who is having a hard time,
he has a couple of girls, he wants to be
a rapper but he’s going through a hard time getting his demo heard.’ He gave us
a copy of the script, and we went off of what he said and read the script and
wrote the song.

Q: Did he have any input? Did he ask for changes or did he
like the first version you gave him?

Juicy: The first version he heard he said, ‘That’s it! That’s
it! You know what I’m saying? We gotta use that song. That’s it.’

Q: Was the song easy to write? Did it come to you quickly
after reading the script?

Juicy: I kind of went off what he said. He said the pimp was
having a hard time, he was going through some situations in his life. I was
like, it’s hard out here for pimp, you know what I’m saying? He needs the money
for the rent. For Cadillacs and gas money spent, because a whole lot of bitches
jumping ship. I mean it didn’t come just like that, but as he was talking I was
just thinking and we went to the studio and wrote some. We knocked it out.

Q: How do you usually write? Do you come up with rhymes
during the course of the day and write them down or do you sit down and try to
bust out a whole song at once?

Juicy: Sometimes, man, we may write the hook and then produce
the track and then come back later and finish the lyrics. It’s just different
ways. Sometimes we write lyrics and then come up with the hook. But this song
man, we wrote the hook and then we put together the track and then we put
together the lyrics.

Q: Hustle & Flow – and this song being up for an Oscar –
is in a lot of ways the culmination of Southern hip hop making it big. It’s
huge now, but why do you think it’s taken so long?

Juicy: People just didn’t look at Southern hip hop to be
mainstream, or just not anything big over the years, man. But over the years it
just took over. You see what Nelly has done, and Ludacris. Outkast – these guys
are blowing up. Ludacris is doing movies, doing car commercials and sneaker
commercials. He’s fucking big. Nelly’s doing the same thing – commercials, Pimp
Juice. Lil John got an energy drink that just came out, Crunk Juice. I mean, it’s
a lot of stuff. Southern hip hop is taking over. It’s everywhere.

Q: What’s next for the South? Who are the next big acts?

Juicy: Young Jeezy, man. He’s real hot right now in the
South. Young Jeezy, Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Paul Wall. As far as the new acts
coming out these guys are smokin’ in the South right now. These guys are doing

Q: Do you think the Southern fans are different than the
East or West coast fans? Mike Jones put his cell phone number out there – I can’t
imagine a lot of East coast rappers doing that.

Juicy: Different strokes for different folks, man. That was
his thing, man, and it worked for him. Different rappers all over the world
have different things. For me, my gimmick what I do is I wear a lot of rock
shirts. I like a lot of rock music, so I wear a lot of rock t-shirts and jeans
and stuff like that. Jay Z got the fly suits – Jay Z can pretty much wear
anything, man. Jay Z is one of the best rappers out there. He’s one of the
godfathers of rap, you know what I’m saying? Everybody got their own thing; Nas
has his own thing, 50 Cent has his own thing.

I don’t think it’s just a South thing with Mike Jones,
everybody got their own thing. What works, what makes everybody unique.

Q: What do you think your odds are on Oscar night? Do you
think you’ll go home with the gold?

Juicy: I’m not even thinking about it, man. Whether I win or
lose, man, I feel like a winner right now. My song got nominated, and that’s
big. My main concern is putting on a good show, man. Win or lose, I just think
it’s a blessing to be nominated and recognized on television for something I’ve
been doing for 15 years. We’re a small regional group and all of a sudden we’re
getting this exposure, man. We’re not thinking about winning or losing, we just
at it right now. It’s so big, man. You think about it and it’s like, ‘Wow!’ I’ll
be walking down the street and think about it and say, ‘I got nominated for an
Oscar, man!’

Q: Are there any celebrities you’re excited to meet on Oscar

Juicy: I’m hoping to run into Denzel Washington, man. I love
Denzel Washington, man, I think he’s a great actor, man. He’s been around a
long time but I don’t think he’s getting the recognition he should. I love his
acting, man. I think he’s very talented.

And Halle
Berry of course!