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Evolving slowly but steadily over the years, Three 6 Mafia began as an exploitative, horror-themed underground hardcore rap sensation ("666 Mafia," get it?) yet went on to enjoy relatively mainstream success years later, eventually winning an Oscar and scoring some major hits. The Memphis, TN, group's membership varied from album to album, with the one constant being the duo of Juicy J and DJ Paul, who are producers as well as rappers. Other notable Mafia affiliates at one time or another include Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, Lord Infamous, Koopsta Knicca, La' Chat, Project Pat, Killa Klan Kaze, and Indo G. The production acumen of Juicy and Paul also brought about a number of side projects (Tear da Club Up Thugs, Hypnotize Camp Posse, Da Headbussaz) and independent label ventures; the guys initially did business as Prophet Entertainment, later as Hypnotize Minds, working out deals with Relativity Records, Loud Records, and Columbia -- all in turn.
Three 6 Mafia's beginnings date back to the early '90s, when they were known as Triple Six Mafia; these recordings are well compiled on such latter-day compilations as Underground, Vol. 1: 1991-1994. Three 6 made their proper debut in 1995 with Mystic Stylez, a fairly groundbreaking if rudimentary effort that lent itself well to the "horrorcore" tag tossed about in the years to follow. Following another independently released album, Da End (1996), Three 6 signed a distribution deal with Relativity, resulting in Chapter 2: World Domination (1997) and a rash of hasty releases to follow, including solo albums as well as side projects. There were some underground hits from this era that helped further the group's fan base: "Tear da Club Up '97" and "Sippin' on Some Syrup," most notably. Three 6 eventually signed to Columbia, though the group's label debut, Da Unbreakables (2003), didn't break into mainstream consciousness. That would happen with Most Known Unknown (2005), thanks to "Stay Fly," the first major hit for the group. Many doors opened for Three 6 thereafter, including an unlikely Oscar win in early 2006 (for "Hard out There for a Pimp," from the film Hustle & Flow). Capitalizing on the success, Sony reissued Most Known Unknown in 2006 with some new tracks, including a remix of "Side 2 Side," that featured Kanye West.
Given the longevity of Three 6 and the group's longtime status as cult sensations within the hardcore rap underground, there are all kinds of stories and rumors that surfaced over the years. Keeping tabs on the group membership alone is a challenge. For one reason or another, Juicy and Paul rarely kept a consistent stable of rappers, and with each departing member came some sort of drama; for instance, Gangsta Boo allegedly left after finding the Lord whereas Project Pat spent time behind bars. There was also a short-lived beef with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony that inspired a one-off EP, Live by Yo Rep. And there were cinematic ambitions, too -- albeit direct-to-video in nature (Choices). That such a group would ever cross over as Three 6 did in the wake of "Stay Fly" could never have been imagined early on, when they were among the most notorious rap acts out there.
Three 6 Mafia was a hip hop group originally from Memphis, Tennessee, signed to Sony Music Entertainment under the Columbia Records imprint. Formed in 1991 as Backyard Posse then later Triple 6 Mafia, by DJ Paul, Lord Infamous & Juicy J. The group later included three more members, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca & Gangsta Boo (all of whom were added shortly before the release of their debut album Mystic Stylez). The group created their own label; Hypnotize Minds, where they launched the careers of many Memphis rappers, such as Frayser Boy, Project Pat (Juicy J's older brother), Lil Wyte & La Chat. Their 2005 song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from the 2005 film Hustle and Flow won Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards, with the group being the first hip hop artists to perform at the ceremony.
The group released their debut underground album Mystic Stylez in 1995 through Prophet Entertainment, a record label they created but have since relinquished control of. Their musical style—which initially featured dark, menacing beats with equally gritty lyrics—has since moved to a more mainstream sound. The group has also had numerous lineup changes, and now consists of original members Juicy J and DJ Paul. Nonetheless, they have cultivated a sizable and diverse cult following that has only increased since their Oscar win. Two of their albums are RIAA-rated platinum: When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000) and Most Known Unknown (2005), the latter featured their well-known single "Stay Fly", which is said to have kick-started their rise to fame and the mainstream. The group's worldwide album sales stand at 5.5 million.New York Times
ContentsHistory1.1 Academy Award1.2 Events after Academy Award win1.3 Da Mafia 6ix
The group started in 1991 in Memphis with DJ Paul (Paul Beauregard), Juicy J (Jordan Houston) and Lord Infamous (Ricky Dunigan). The original name for the dark hip hop group was "Backyard Posse". The group formed through the release of numerous EPs from their own record company with Nick Scarfo, Prophet Entertainment, which were sold around Memphis and the Mid-West. Later DJ Paul and Juicy J formed their own label, Hypnotize Minds Records. During their early career, they also propelled the careers of several other rappers. Eventually added before the release of Mystic Stylez were rappers Koopsta Knicca (Robert Cooper), Gangsta Boo (Lola Mitchell), and Crunchy Black (Darnell Carlton). Many artists over the years ended up leaving the label over money disputes.
The group expanded and help start the careers of notable Mafia affiliates, including Project Pat, Frayser Boy, La Chat, Lil Wyte, T-Rock, Gangsta Blac, Kingpin Skinny Pimp, MC Mack, ScanMan, Chrome Korleone, BoogieMan & Al Kapone among others. The production acumen of Juicy and Paul also brought about a number of side projects such as Tear da Club Up Thugs, Hypnotize Camp Posse and Da Headbussaz as well as independent label ventures.
At this point in the group's evolution, having signed to a major label (SONY), group leaders DJ Paul and Juicy J began extending their brand. They started by releasing solo albums by their label affiliates such as, Can It Be? by Gangsta Blac, Ghetty Green, Murderers & Robbers, Mista Don't Play: Everythangs Workin' and Layin' da Smack Down by Project Pat, Doubt Me Now, Phinally Phamous, The One and Only and The Bad Influence by Lil Wyte, Angel Dust by Indo G, Gone On That Bay & Me Being Me by Frayser Boy, and compilation-styled albums such as collections of tracks from earlier years (Underground Vol. 1: (1991-1994), Underground Vol. 2: Club Memphis & Underground Vol. 3: Kings of Memphis among other projects). Three Six Mafia also originally coined the term "Crunk" as a description of their Southern type sound.
In 2006, Three 6 Mafia became the first hip-hop group to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song with "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp" (co-written by Frayser Boy). They were also the first hip-hop artists to ever to perform at the ceremony. It was the second hip hop song (and the first crunk/dirty south song) to win an Oscar, after Eminem's "Lose Yourself", from the film 8 Mile (2002). Right before presenter Queen Latifah announced that they had won, she chuckled and sang a refrain from the popular song. The energy from Houston, Coleman, and Beauregard's presence and acceptance speech was infectious, causing that year's Oscar host Jon Stewart to quip "How come they're the most excited people tonight?.... That's how you accept an Oscar."
Events after Academy Award win
On June 7, 2006, Sony announced the departure of original Triple 6 Mafia member Crunchy Black. Thereafter Three 6 Mafia consisted just of remaining members DJ Paul and Juicy J.
The two producers of the group had their own reality show, Adventures in Hollyhood, on MTV. The show focused on the pair balancing fun and studio work after their Oscar win. Associate rappers Project Pat & Lil Wyte along with hometown friends Big Triece & Computer co-starred. The show premiered on April 5, 2007 on MTV & was not renewed for a second season.
Three 6 Mafia was also featured on Justin Timberlake's "Chop Me Up" from his 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds.
After leaving Three 6 Mafia a number of years prior, Lord Infamous was featured on DJ Paul's second solo album Scale-A-Ton, which was released on May 5, 2009. Lord Infamous was featured on 8 tracks. Juicy J's second solo album Hustle Till I Die was released on June 16, 2009. The album featured his brother and frequent collaborator Project Pat and other rappers such as V-Slash, Gucci Mane, Webbie and Gorilla Zoe.
Three 6 Mafia released their eighth studio album Last 2 Walk on June 24, 2008, after multiple delays. The album featured collaborations with Project Pat, Lil Wyte, Akon, Good Charlotte, Lyfe Jennings and UGK.
After a number of mixtapes, DJ Paul released his third solo studio album A Person of Interest on October 22, 2012. He announced that the album is a mix of gangsta rap and crunk music, with it also incorporating influences from dubstep and electronic dance music. The album featured past collaboraters Lil Wyte and Gucci Mane, and also came with a bonus DVD including a self-titled short movie, music videos and behind the scenes footage. On November 26, 2013, DJ Paul released Volume 16: The Original Masters, a remaster of his 1994 mixtape 4 Da Summer of ’94, on iTunes.
From 2009 through 2012, Juicy J moved completely away from Three 6 Mafia to focus on his solo career. During this time he released a number of solo mixtapes such as Rubba Band Business and Blue Dream & Lean. He also frequently collaborated with rapper Wiz Khalifa, appearing on a number of his mixtapes. In December 2011, Juicy J confirmed that he was the newest member of Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang imprint - as an A&R and one-third owner of the imprint. After releasing a series of singles, including the chart topping "Bandz a Make Her Dance" which features 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, Juicy J released his third solo studio album Stay Trippy under Taylor Gang Records, Kemosabe Records and Columbia Records on August 27, 2013. Juicy J has since stated that he would still "love to" participate in a Three 6 Mafia album in the future.
Da Mafia 6ix
In 2013, it was announced that five of the six original members of Three 6 Mafia DJ Paul, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, Lord Infamous and Gangsta Boo, were reuniting as "Da Mafia 6ix" with plans to release an album, which is currently scheduled for a March 2014 release. Recording began in Las Vegas in late 2013. Due to the established contracts with Sony, who own the rights to Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J could not perform with DJ Paul in a different group not under the label. DJ Paul explained the name change of the group was because of Juicy J's absence, and that he would "look at it as a new project". On November 12, 2013, Da Mafia 6ix released their first mixtape 6iX Commandments. The tape was almost entirely produced by DJ Paul and featured Yelawolf, 8Ball & MJG, Krayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, SpaceGhostPurrp and HCP affiliates Lil Wyte, Skinny Pimp and La Chat, among others. Juicy J and Project Pat also appeared as surprise guests on the posse song "Body Parts", being credited just as "& more" in the track listing. The mixtape was supported by the lead single "Go Hard" featuring Yelawolf. The mixtape also received a retail release and debuted at number 34 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
On December 21, 2013, founding group member Lord Infamous died of a heart attack in his sleep at his mother's home in Memphis, Tennessee. Gangsta Boo would also leave the group in May 2014. DJ Paul explained it saying, "It was what we thought was going to be best for everybody. It just happened. Nobody forced nobody. It was a gut feeling." The reunited group's album, Watch What U Wish, will be released in February 2015."Three 6 Mafia Wins Oscar". xxxlmag.com. Oscar telecast, Jan. 2012. Official MTV site for Adventures in Hollyhood "FutureSex / LoveSounds: Justin Timberlake: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. "Hustle Till I Die: Juicy J: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. "30 Inches (Feat. Gucci Mane & Project Pat) [Explicit]: Juicy J: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. "Hustle Till I Die (Feat. V Slash) [Explicit]: Juicy J: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. "Ugh Ugh Ugh (Feat. Weebie & Project Pat) [Explicit]: Juicy J: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. http://www.spin.com/articles/juicy-j-stay-trippy-three-6-mafia-comeback/ http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.25286/title.juicy-j-says-he-would-love-to-participate-in-a-three-6-mafia-album-in-the-future "DJ Paul Announces Da Mafia 6ix Album Info". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2013-11-13. "Da Mafia 6ix "6ix Commandments" Cover Art, Tracklisting, Download & Mixtape Stream". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2013-11-13. "Three 6 Mafia! Da Mafia 6ix! New Mixtape "6ix Commandments"". LiveMixtapes. Retrieved 2013-11-13. "Da Mafia 6ix 'Go Hard' With Yelawolf (and Not Juicy J)". Spin. Retrieved 2013-11-13. http://www.billboard.com/charts/r-b-hip-hop-albums?page=3 Diep, Eric. "DJ Paul Confirms Lord Infamous Died At His Mother’s House". XXL Magazine. Retrieved 21 December 2013. http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.28690/title.dj-paul-reveals-gangsta-boo-s-departure-from-da-mafia-6ix http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.30960/title.dj-paul-announces-da-mafia-6ix-hear-sum-evil-mixtape