Cormac McCarthy and Three 6 Mafia share no small number of traits. I love them both. They both like talking about guns and blood and alcohol and thugs and killers and the dark. Neither is afraid to abuse the rules of punctuation or make up language. McCarthy won a Pulitzer, Three 6 got an Oscar. Both also have ten major primary works spanning several decades. I decided to compare their histories head-to-head to see who comes out on top.
The Orchard Keeper (1965) vs. Smoked Out, Loced Out (1994)
Triple Six debuts with an underground tape full of drugged up Satanic lean-beats that sound like being dragged through a computer made of electronic toddler tissue. Cormac debuts with a solid, if rather disjointed, vaguely coming-of-age-aimed novel about a kid and the guy who killed his dad (although neither is aware of that). Seems like a no-brainer.
McC: “Across the yard, brilliant against the façade of pines beyond, a cardinal shot like a drop of blood.”
3-6: “vocal cords swords / side board more souvenir / skins of belly body / smelly death is in the atmosphere / peace is extinct / bloody street / make them steal / planes crash ships sink…”
Obviously, witch shit beats a boy’s coming of age any day.
POINT: Three 6
Three Six - 1, McCarthy - 0
Outer Dark (1968) vs. Mystic Stylez (1995)
No sophomore slump in either case. Somehow Three 6 has gotten more evil with tricked-out shit-talk murder rhymes and an overall more diverse range of sound, while Cormac is following around a woman looking for her lost inbred baby in the woods. I don’t know how common codeine abuse was in the 60s, but seems like these guys are all sipping off the same bottle, and Three Six is just doing it better.
McC: “Swamp peepers hushed constantly before him and commenced behind as if he moved in a void claustral to sound.”
3-6: “Take my pitchfork out the fire, soak it in their chest / Through the ribs, spines, charcoal the muscle tissue / And send what’s left back to yo mammy…”
Inbred babies are cool and all, but suicide haunt-you rap wins all day.
POINT: Three 6
Three Six - 2, McCarthy - 0
Child of God (1973) vs. Chapter 1: The End (1996)
A much-needed jump in the game for McCarthy, turning in perhaps his first big boss work, about a necrophiliac dragging bodies around the woods and doing sex on them. Three Six are starting to sound a little less out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-fucked-up-on-blood and a little more out-in-the-club-fucked-up-and-surrounded-by-hoes, a direction they will continue to develop, leaving Satan in the dust on the quest for cash.
McC: “A crazed gymnast labouring over a cold corpse. He poured into that waxen ear everything he’d ever thought of saying to a woman.”
3-6: “Enemies ain't birds / All this medicine done made me crazy / I'm starting to lace it / I should've stopped a long time ago…”
Close race in the gross-boy game, but I’ll go with Cormac here for turning up the heat.
McCarthy - 1, Three 6 - 2
Suttree (1979) vs. Chapter 2: World Domination (1997)
My favourite McCarthy novel – and probably in my top three novels of all time – Suttree is about a fucked-up guy alone in the woods and a guy who tunnels under the earth blowing shit up. Meanwhile, Three 6 bifurcates their lunacy further into leaned-out-under-the-dirt screw-chants and beat-they-ass-at-the-club put-this-on-at-the-ballgame-and-your-team-will-win-crunk-shit, continuing to get thicker.
Please note that they’ve now resorted to calling their albums chapters, which seems almost a direct “fuck-you-brah, we got this” to our little novelist.
McC: “The spruce trees stood black and bereaved of dimension in the shadow of the high cloven draws, against the sky processional and nunlike ascending in the dusk.”
3-6: “The prophet boys be hypnotising all of ya'll / Ganna tear around your throat and drag you like you want […]”
Fuck, I don’t know. If Suttree can’t win, no book probably can. I guess I have no choice.
McCarthy - 2, Three Six - 2
Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (1985) vs. When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000)
Maybe one of the most ornately violent books ever by an American, with lots of nasty evil blood and ranting in high color, up against the Three Six album that, while not one of my favourites, has maybe the greatest rap song of all time, “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” which does help wash down the collab track with I.C.P that shows up here, but man…
McC: “All about her the dead lay with their peeled skulls like polyps bluely wet or luminescent melons cooling on some mesa of the moon.”
3-6: “I got the wet promenthazine, thick orange and yellow tuss / Hydrocor-zone, on the hands-free phone / The '84 zone, on them blades, 20-inch chrome”
I’d hate to have to see McCarthy put his money where his mouth is, but on this one at least he’s definitely more nasty and to the teeth.
- McCarthy - 3, Three 6 - 2
All the Pretty Horses (1992) vs. Choices: The Album (2001)
Right on the heels of his sickest book, McCarthy brings maybe his biggest hit, the thing that made him read by housewives and got him paid. It’s also by far his cheesiest book, devoid of terror. Sellout ass shit. I haven’t even really listened to this album but it still wins. That album cover should be in the Guggenheim.
McC: “His own father said that no man who has not gone to war horseback can ever truly understand the horse and he said he supposed he wished that this were not so but that it was so.”
3-6: “I cruise around the city / I’m rollin up the sticky / I’m ridin 22s / And I love big titties / Gel and weave / Gel and weave […]”
Wipe the drool off your sleeve, bro.
POINT: Three 6
Three 6 - 3, McCarthy - 3
The Crossing (1994) vs. Da Unbreakables (2003)
The Crossing is way better than the first part of the Border Trilogy, but I’ve probably listened to this album more than any rap album in the last ten years and it still goes hard. I wish someone would film another Cormac book and cast Project Pat in every role.
McC: “He stepped over the parapet and walked toward the wolf and levered a shell into the chamber of the rifle and halted ten feet from her and raised the rifle to his shoulder and took at the bloodied head and fired.”
3-6: “Put cha dick in her mouth / give me head til I’m dead […]”
Good to see Cormac drop the chasing pussy game, but still no contest here.
POINT: Three 6
Three 6 - 4, McCarthy - 3
Cities of the Plain (1998) vs. Choices II: The Setup (2005)
Both works were decent, but not the most memorable for either. Maybe they should have worked together on these, fly Cormac in on a private jet, sag his pants and tie a bandana around his face, force feed him ecstasy and vodka, get him on some dead-above-the-ground shit again.
McC: “He passed his hand across the top of the table. As if he were making smooth something unseen before him.”
3-6: “She got the biggest brown round that ya ever seen / Lordomaniac I’ll make her hit the club and make that cheese […]”
Too hazy to get a real boss on this one.
- Three 6 - 4, McCarthy - 3
No Country for Old Men (2005) vs. Most Known Unknown (2005)
Easily McCarthy’s shittiest book, like an action movie on paper and cute move versions of all his prior moves without the language or the balls. Three Six could have put out an album of just Juicy J looped going “Shut the fukk up!!” for 45 minutes and I’d choose it over this. Meanwhile, Most Known Unknown is solid as fuck.
McC: “His face was full of small holes but his right eye seemed intact and he looked up at Chigurh and tried to speak from out of his bubbling mouth.”
3-6: “10 g's will get your ass blown off / Have your mama boohooin' and your daddy and yo maw in law (mmmhmmm) / 20 g's will get your ass chopped up / By some rendezvous barbecue tips we don't give a fuck (mmmhmm) […]”
No contest. Go back to bed, Cormboy.
POINT: Three Six
Three 6 - 5, McCarthy - 3
The Road (2006) vs. Last 2 Walk (2008)
The Road got its nuts swabbed to the point of landing homeboy a spot on Oprah, but at least it’s not dickwater like No Country. And while still a solid piece of work from Three 6, the absence of Crunchy Black just kind of burns.
McC: “What they came to was a cedar wood, the trees dead and black but still full enough to hold the snow.”
3-6: “Rocks under my balls, pistol in my drawers / A bird of blow on the table break quarters and halves off / For those who comin through this ain't Casino but I'm your dealer”
Why the fuck is Good Charlotte on a track on this album?
Three 6 - 5, McCarthy - 4
OVERALL: Closer than I thought it’d be, for an old white bro versus a gang of gold, but in the end it seems quite clear. McCarthy should be pretty proud he almost forced a tie, as in overtime I believe the elderly take the advantage.
WINNER: Three 6 Mafia