Photo by Patrick O’Dell
We said it over five years ago: all of Three 6 Mafia’s records sound like a black License to Ill. Similar 808 beats, same themes: freaky intercourse, substance abuse, and debauched partying. In a southern context, DJ Paul and Juicy J’s production, coupled with their infectious club chants, is also said to be one of the origins of crunk. But what truly sets it apart is its slow, hypnotic pace and frightening undertones. Basically, every Three 6 song—which incidentally only gets released if it receives the approval of the enigmatic and bloodshot-eyed dancer Crunchy Blac—is designed to make you dance slow, scream loud, and shit in your pants, all at once.
Vice: Three 6 beats are buck, but they’re dark at the same time.
Crunchy Blac: It’s street darkness. It ain’t got nuthin’ to do with no devil worship. It’s just, you know, we like to be more street than anybody else. We like to be a little harder and a little bit darker, like a lot of bass or, you know, scary sounds to go with the raps. You see what I’m sayin’?
What about that kind of darkness appeals to you? What role does darkness play in your music?
DJ Paul: We dark.
DJ Paul: We dark people—we niggers.
Juicy J: No, we just like the evil image. The darkness. The whole thing.
Right. I remember back when you were called the Tear the Club Up Thugs, your magazine ads had all kinds of blood and shit, you know?
DJ Paul: Before that man, when it first started off, me and Lord Infamous—that’s my brother—we was in a group together called the Serial Killers.
I’ve never been to Memphis before. Is it a scary place or something?
Crunchy Blac: They pretty cool in Memphis. They show you some love if you come from somewhere else. But if you go to the wrong part, yeah, it’s scary as hell.
What would be the wrong part?
Crunchy Blac: South Memphis, North Memphis.
Crunchy Blac: If you go to South Memphis there ain’t really no good parts unless it’s on South Parkway. There’s a couple record stores there. And then if you’re in North Memphis, there ain’t no parts for you to be in.
If I were to come down there anyway, what would I want to do?
Juicy J: You would want to go to the strip clubs and get some barbecue.
DJ Paul: Yep.
Juicy J: That’s what Memphis is about: pork and women.
Pork and women? Sometimes at the same time?
Juicy J: Pork and women.
What do you do back in Memphis on Halloween?
Crunchy Blac: It’s so crazy in Memphis, man, some people put stuff in candy. So we don’t really let our kids roam, like Halloween-style. We probably throw a big party somewhere for the kids. Folks be crazy these days. They put stuff in the candy and try to hurt your kids.
DJ Paul: In Memphis, on Halloween, everybody throw eggs. They get like 12 or 13 cartons of eggs, throw ’em.
Juicy J: Memphis love Halloween. You know, we was the robber capital of the whole country so we need a reason to wear masks and get away with it.
If you had to pick out a Halloween costume for yourself right now, what do you think you would go for?
Crunchy Blac: The Grim Reaper.
Juicy J: If I was going to go trick-or-treating right now for real, I’d get dressed up in all black. I’d wear all black, man. All black with a black Jason mask. I got one of them at the house.
You guys make movies. Have you ever thought of making a horror movie?
Crunchy Blac: We’ve thought about it. We have a new movie called Cleanup Men. Then we going to work on a couple more like Choices 3, The Return of the Big Cat, and The Streets of Memphis. There will be a little scary stuff in Streets of Memphis.
DJ Paul: I want to make a real horror movie, but we don’t know how to act that good. You really gotta know how to act to play like you gettin’ killed.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
Juicy J: Texas Chainsaw.
The original one, right? What’d you think of the remake?
DJ Paul: I liked the remake!
Yeah, but the original was better because it looked like a real home movie or something.
Juicy J: Yeah, yeah. That’s what made it better. It was dark. It was cheap.
Crunchy Blac, what would you say is your role in the group?
Crunchy Blac: I’m the dancer, I’m the backer-upper, I’m just me, man. Everybody got a role and my role is I’m the gutter one, watching everybody’s back. I can’t do nothin’ fake. I can’t do no pretending.
In the “Stay Fly” video, Juicy J you have this shirt on that I really like. It’s black and it’s got green skulls on it.
Juicy J: Yeah, I’m gonna put it on eBay. You want to buy it?
Maybe. How much is it gonna go for?
Juicy J: We’re starting the bidding at $1,500.
Where’d it come from? It looks like some weird bootleg Misfits shirt.
Juicy J: I don’t know. My stylist guy, he found it from somewhere.
Three 6 Mafia’s new album The Known Unknowns is in stores now. Its lead single, “Stay Fly,” is probably the best piece of music to come out in 2005. The Hypnotize Camp Posse Yep, Three 6 Mafia are the new Dipset. They were here before and they will be here after. Don’t want to look like you just caught on? Here’s all you need to know to act like you knew all along. The Three 6 foundation
1995’s Mystic Styles and the Live by Yo Rep EP pack dark beats and brutal posse cuts, as does 1997’s The End, with the standout “Body Parts.” Up until the Relativity debut Chapt. 2 “World Domination” (1997), there’s also a heavy Bone Thugs influence, with messy double-time flows all over the place. Tear Da Club Up Thugs’ Crazyndalazdayz (1999) compilation has the classic “Slob on My Knob (Like Corn on the Cob)” as well as Crunchy Blac’s “Get Buck Get Wild” anthem. Three 6’s crossover began when they bounced over to Loud with When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6 Sixty 1 (2000), featuring the seminal “Sippin’ on Some Syrup (feat. UGK), arguably the best southern rap song ever, and the hilarious “Tongue Ring.” Always quick to comment on the cultural innovations of the day, DJ Paul and Juicy J pen “2 Way Freak” for the soundtrack to their 2001 movie Choices. Finally picked up by Sony in 2003, Three 6 topped their previous sales with Da Unbreakables, helmed by the hit “Ridin’ Spinners.” All the while, Paul and J have released independent compilations (featuring notable collaborations with the Dayton Family) under the names Prophet Posse, Hypnotize Camp Posse and Kings of Memphis. Project Pat, the Wayward Brother
This behemoth’s career has unfortunately been punctuated by jail bids. Still, he enjoyed at least two hit singles: “Gel and Weave” and of course, the classic “Chickenhead,” where he goes back and forth with La’ Chat. Chat: “You ridin’ clean but your gas tank is on E / Be stepping out ain’t got no decent shoes on your feet” Pat: “That’s just the meter broke, you don’t know what you’re talkin’ ‘bout / Anyway, them new Jordans finna come out.” With the cadence and rigor of a metronome, he meticulously changes his delivery in every verse he spits. You must also see his standout performance in the Choices movies, namely the scene where he gets a pep talk and complains that his homies lack “viiiision.” Gangsta Boo and La’ Chat, the Girls
In an unpublished 2000 Vice interview, all Gangsta Boo could talk about was how she likes hanging with white boys and popping X. On record she’s much more sensible, standing up for her single black females on her smash “Where Dem Dollars At.” And things get even deeper on “I Faked It Last Night,” where the chorus goes: “Why you lyin’ to your boys, tellin’ them you slangin’ pipe / You ain’t even make me cum, I faked it last night,” to which DJ Paul answers: “I would’ve pulled your hair but I was scared it would come out / I’ll paint your face like Kiss with this nut when it runs out.” When Boo mysteriously got kicked out of Three 6 she was replaced by La’ Chat, who sounds a little harder than her and looks way more badass. Standout tracks on her Murder She Spoke album include “You Ain’t Mad Iz Ya” and “Slob on My Cat,” an apropos response to “Slob on My Knob”: “I met two niggas, said they wanna fuck / One ate my pussy, the other licked my butt.” The Kids
Look out for the new releases from DJ Paul and Juicy J’s new protégés Lil Wyte, Chrome, and Frayser Boy.