DJ Paul discusses Grammy wins, the state of hip-hop, influences and more


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Three 6 Mafia co-founder DJ Paul took to the stage three times for a historic Grammys sweep over the weekend.

He co-wrote and co-produced two of the songs on Killer Mike’s latest album, Michael. The album won best rap album, and one of the songs DJ Paul worked on won best rap performance and best rap song.

“I got more excited every time we walked out,” DJ Paul said of taking to the stage to celebrate three times. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, wow.’ This is repetitive, but in a good way though. This is crazy.”

The awards marked a new high for one of the defining voices in Memphis hip-hop.

DJ Paul said he plans to put his trophy right next to the Oscar he won for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” in 2006 as soon as it arrives in the mail.

“I’m going to get a tattoo of my Oscar holding my Grammy,” he said.

It’s been a long road from South Memphis to the stage at the Grammys.

“I am from the Southeast like DJ Paul,” Killer Mike said during one of his acceptance speeches. “I am a Black man in America and as a kid, I had a dream to become a part of music.”

DJ Paul described the journey in one word: grateful.

“I’m grateful we won,” he said. “Thank you to the Recording Academy, thank you to the Grammys.”

DJ Paul said he has known Killer Mike for years and working with him on the tracks “Talk’n that S***!” and Grammy-winner “Scientists & Engineers” was a great experience. Winning back-to-back-to-back was the cherry on top.

“It is always great working with Mike, always great hanging and talking with Mike,” he said. “He is such a smart dude and such a positive person.”

DJ Paul said the night of the awards show was full of surprises. He said each win was more exciting than the last one.

Another surprise was learning the awards for best rap album, best rap song and best rap performance are not part of the Grammys TV broadcast.

“I understand they can’t show all of it on TV, but they should at least show the main rap ones because rap is such a huge part of music right now,” DJ Paul said.

Even after the team was done winning awards, another, less pleasant surprise was in store. Killer Mike was arrested for a misdemeanor shortly after leaving the stage.

DJ Paul said he assumed Killer Mike was on the red carpet or doing an interview when he didn’t see him around. He learned what had really happened when he talked to his team.

“I was like, ‘Hey, are y’all going in there to eat or what?’ They said, ‘Keep going man, we are in a lot of trouble right now.’ I was like, ‘Oh crap,’” he said. “Next thing I know, my manager is texting me saying Mike got arrested.”

Killer Mike was released on $0 bond.

DJ Paul’s take on the incident is that sometimes, some bad comes with the good.

He said now that he’s won a Grammy and Oscar, he’s closing in on an EGOT and needs to look into television and theater.

“I’m halfway there. EGOT. Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony,” he said. “I need to write a play or something, figure out how to get the other two.”

A lot has changed in the world of hip-hop and music as a whole since DJ Paul’s career got started.

Everywhere you look, though, you see traces of the style hand and the artists he came up with pioneered, from triplet flows to a greater emphasis on sampling.

“It feels good, man. It makes you feel old in a way though,” DJ Paul said. “It’s like the way we looked up to guys back in the day that we grew up on. Isaac Hayes, Al Green, the Bar-Kays, all those guys.”

DJ Paul said he admired many of the classic Memphis soul artists. One in particular, though, took a more hands-on approach to helping Three 6 Mafia succeed: James Alexander of the Bar-Kays.

“He’s like a father to me. James Alexander from the Bar-Kays was actually Three 6 Mafia’s first tour manager, back in 1996,” he said.

DJ Paul said he hopes his career and collaborations have provided a similar inspiration to the Memphis artists making waves today.

“Love Gotti, love Glorilla, I talk to Glo a lot,” he said. “Love Moneybagg Yo, we’ve got some platinum records together.”

DJ Paul also listed Key Glock and Young Dolph as favorites.

“I love California, love New York City, but Memphis Tennessee has the best artists of all time,” he said.

DJ Paul said he is happy to see how beloved many of his classic songs have become and is thrilled to look out at the crowd at his shows and see young people who know all the words.

“There will be kids out there, 16 or 17 years old, singing these songs word for word,” he said. “I’m like, man, these songs were made before y’all were even made.”

He also shared a message for the young people in Memphis trying to find success while dealing with the city’s highest-ever violent crime rates.

“I’ve been hearing about all the craziness going on. Stay out of the streets. Stay in the studio, not the streets,” DJ Paul said. “Just stay focused. It’s not easy. It looks easy on TV, but it’s not easy.”

FOX13 asked DJ Paul if he has plans for a show in his hometown anytime soon.

He said to stay tuned.

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