Three 6 Mafia

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Mystic Stylez (1995), 7/10
The End (1996), 6/10
Chapter 2 - World Domination (1997), 6/10
Tear Da Club Up Thugz: CrazyNDaLazDayz (1999), 6/10
When the Smoke Clears - Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000), 5/10
Choices (2001), 4/10
Da Unbreakables (2003), 4.5/10
Choices II - The Setup (2005), 4/10
Most Known Unknown (2005), 5/10
Last 2 Walk (2008), 4/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Memphis' Three 6 Mafia, formed around the trio of Paul "DJ Paul" Beauregard, rapper Ricky "Lord Infamous" Dunigan and producer Jordan "Juicy J" Houston, debuted with the cassette Smoked Out Loced Out (1994), when they still called themselves Triple Six Mafia. The lo-fi, murky production and the sleepy, foggy rhythm makes the songs sound drugged. Pimpin' and Robbin' is the standout. At the same time Koopsta Knicca released his first solo album, Da Devil's Playground (1994).

Underground Vol 1 - 1991-1994 (1999) is a compilation of early material, notably the gangsta rap Ridin' da Chevy and the horrorcore of Playa Hataz and Walk Up to Your House. Underground Vol 2 - Club Memphis (1999) collects more, but of lower quality. DJ Paul cleaned up an old 1993 tape to create Underground Volume 16 - For da Summ (2002) and Juicy J cleaned up a 1994 tape to create Chronicles of the Juice Man (2002). DJ Paul and Juicy J jointly assembled the mixtapes Vol 1 - Da Beginning (1994), Part 2 - Da Exorcist (1994), and especially Vol 3 Spring Mix '95 (1995), an elegant demonstration of their skills. DJ Paul also produced Lord Infamous' cassettes Come W/ Me 2 Hell (1993) and especially Come With Me 2 Hell II - Lords of Terror (1995), which probably remains his best solo effort. In between Lord Infamous released his Solo Tape (1994).

Having become a sextet with the addition of rappers Koopsta Knicca (Robert Phillips), Crunchy Black (Darnell Carlton) and Gangsta Boo (Lola Mitchell), they changed name to Three 6 Mafia and released the first official album, Mystic Stylez (1995). They were lumped into the southern hip-hop movement, a sort of Memphis counterpart to Texas' DJ Screw and UGK (especially DJ Screw's psychedelic sound) except that their lyrics, inspired by horror movies, indulged in demonic and generally horror themes. The songs actually didn't stick to one style but rather explored a vast palette of styles, from the gangsta rap of Break Da Law '95 (a DJ Paul solo song) and In Da Game to the mellow and dreamy Da Summa (with a refrain reminiscent of San Francisco's acid-rock of the 1960s), which is cloud-rap ante-litteram, from the suspenseful horrorcore of Live By Yo Rep and Tear Da Club Up (replete with John Carpenter-style piano figures) from the orchestral funk-soul shuffle Long Nite to the anemic mantra of Porno Movie, from the ghostly Sweet Robbery (funereal rapping and rattling noises) to the Satanic Fuckin Wit Dis Click (Lord Infamous' apex). The slow, ominous, creepy beats engineered by DJ Paul and Juicy J concoct a nightmarish atmosphere that seems more related to Tricky than to hip-hop. This album popularized in Memphis the "trap" style that 8Ball & MJG had already introduced on On the Outside Looking In (1994), and that would spread around the nation a few years later.

Three 6 Mafia also launched the subgenre of Memphis crunk with the deeper, fuller, bottom-heavy production of the album The End (1996) that features the propulsive Gette'm Crunk, a natural evolution from the proto-crunk of Tear Da Club Up and Break Da Law '95. The album's standouts are the rapping mayhem of Body Parts, the gripping Destruction Terror, and especially the piano-driven suspense of Late Night Tip, although the most elegant and effective production trick might be the hissing keyboards of Last Man Standing (apparently inspired by a feud with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, a Ohio group of rappers who actually sounded very similar to Three 6 Mafia).

Chapter 2 - World Domination (1997) was the commercial sell-out of their horrorcore, with a new version of Tear The Club Up (which now became a hit), a new version of Late Nite Tip (ditto) and a new version of Body Parts. It includes catchy bangers like Hit a Muthafucka and Spill My Blood but also a lot of filler.

Gangsta Boo launched his solo career with Enquiring Minds (1998), followed by Both Worlds *69 (2001) and Enquiring Minds II - The Soap Opera (2003).

Under the moniker Tear Da Club Up Thugz, the original trio of DJ Paul, Juicy J and Lord Infamous released the very crunk album CrazyNDaLazDayz (1999), which contains Juicy J's anthem Slob On My Knob.

The mixtape Underground Vol 3 - Kings of Memphis (2000) contains Memphis (Remix) and Powder (The Higher Version).

Their commercial success increased exponentially with the 22-track When the Smoke Clears - Sixty 6 Sixty 1 (2000) that contains the hit Sippin' on Some Syrup and a colossal amount of filler.

Choices (2001) is the soundtrack to a video made by J Paul and Juicy J, which had a sequel a few years later, Choices II - The Setup (2005).

Pared down to a quartet after Gangsta Boo's departure, Three 6 Mafia (Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black, DJ Paul and Juicy J) became world stars with Da Unbreakables (2003), or, better, with its mega-hit Ridin' Spinners. It was the year that crunk became fashionable (Lil Scrappy's No Problem, Crime Mob's Knuck If You Buck). The first three songs of the album could have been a decent EP. The rest is mostly garbage.

Down to a trio after Lord Infamous was jailed, they enjoyed another commercial success with Most Known Unknown (2005), their most melodic album, that contains the hit singles Stay Fly, Poppin My Collar and Side 2 Side.

The song It's Hard out Here for a Pimp (2006) was included in the soundtrack of John Singleton's film "Hustle & Flow" and completed their crossover sellout.

After Crunchy Black left to start a solo career with On My Own (2006) and From Me to You (2007), Three 6 Mafia became simply the duo of DJ Paul and Juicy J, as documented on the terrible Last 2 Walk (2008).

Juicy J released the solo album Hustle Till I Die (2009) as well as a dozen mixtapes between 2009 and 2012, notably the "Rubba Band Business" series with trap producer Lex Luger, later condensed on Rubba Band Business (2017).

DJ Paul released the solo albums Scale-A-Ton (2009) and A Person of Interest (2012).

Most of Three 6 Mafia (DJ Paul, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, Lord Infamous and Gangsta Boo) reunited as Da Mafia 6iX for the mixtape 6iX Commandments (2013). DJ Paul, Crunchy Black and Koopsta Knicca recorded Watch What U Wish (2015), still credited to Da Mafia 6iX although they missed Lord Infamous and Gangsta Boo.

Juicy J had his own best-selling album, Stay Trippy (2013), with the club anthems Bandz a Make Her Dance and Bounce,

Lord Infamous released many solo albums that explored gothic stories: The Man The Myth The Legacy (2007), Futuristic Rowdy Bounty Hunter (2010), Scarecrow Tha Terrible (2011), Legendary Hits (2012), King of Horrorcore (2012), Back From Tha Dead (2012), Scarecrow Tha Terrible Pt Two (2013), Fire & Ice (2013), Voodoo (2013), and the posthumous Legend (2014). Lord Infamous died in 2013 at the age of 40.

Crunchy Black's new album was Money Ain't Nothing To Play With (2015). DJ Paul's new albums were Master of Evil (2015) and Power Pleasure & Painful Things (2019).

Koopsta Knicca died in 2015.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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