Juicy J and Pi’erre Bourne may be nearly two decades apart in age, but they have a lot more in common than you might think. They’re both rapper-producers with distinctive sounds who use straightforward metaphors and flex bars to create atmospheric funhouses of sound. And even though Bourne was one-and-a-half years old when Juicy’s group Three 6 Mafia released their influential 1995 debut Mystic Stylez, both men are trailblazers who molded their respective eras of rap in their own images—Juicy with his menacing Memphis swing, Pi’erre with his candy-colored take on contemporary trap music.
Unfortunately, their debut collaborative project Space Age Pimpin proves that Juicy and Pi’erre—who raps on every song—are an awkward match. Lyrically, they’re at the same eye level—smoking copious amounts of weed, lounging with women all over the world, stiff-arming people trying to mess with their money. But it’s hard to ignore that the album’s stylistic trappings heavily cater to Juicy’s sound over Pi’erre’s. Atmosphere is a big element in both men’s music, and while Juicy has slotted himself into Pi’erre’s hard-hitting dreamscapes neatly before, Pi’erre struggles to stand out over the gothic bounce that dominates this album.
Juicy’s been playing with hi-hats, claps, bass drum, ominous samples, and MIDI instruments for decades, and here they appear on nearly every track. Songs like lead single “This Fronto” and “Uhh Huh” are expansive and gritty, with bass deep enough to power blast the grime off a dirty car. Juicy is in his comfort zone—which isn’t surprising, considering he’s the album’s executive producer—and he floats stories of gun-running and silly sex puns (“She a good girl so before she eat this dick, she gon’ say grace”) across these beats on autopilot.
On the other hand, Pi’erre’s airy melodies and pun-heavy bars don’t fit over this kind of production. Take “Smokin’ Out,” which opens with pitched-down Juicy vocals barreling through synths and a punishing low-end. Pi’erre’s croons are quickly swallowed by the drums, crumpling like a used candy bar wrapper. The melodies he chooses often match the the beat exactly (“Uhh Huh”) or, like on “Who Get High,” they attempt to harmonize and meander aimlessly through verses. There’s a handful of moments where his voice assimilates to the track, including his verses on “BBL” and closer “Unsolved Mystery” but for the most part, his presence is bizarre and distracting. Sometimes, it even sounds like his vocals were ripped from a different project entirely and retrofitted onto leftovers from Juicy’s The Hustle Continues.
This is especially strange since Pi’erre and Juicy share production credits on every song. It’s a shame that one of the most influential producers of this generation has little presence behind the boards here, because the zany pop of Pi’erre’s solo and production work is nonexistent on Pimpin. Whether this was by design or coincidence is beside the point. Juicy J and Pi’erre Bourne clearly had a great time making this project, but Space Age Pimpin falls short of the 8Ball & MJG song for which it’s named. Unlike that duo, Juicy and Pi’erre’s chemistry is off at a base level. They’re left dangling in the wind like mismatched car dice, two colorful halves that are part of a different set.
Read More: Space Age Pimpin’ | Pitchfork