(Today's Reader Review comes from Alex, who took the time to revisit the second full-length project from the Memphis-based, Academy Award-winning crew Three 6 Mafia, Chapter 1: The End (even though the album cover only says The End, but their official site refers to it the same way Alex does, so whatever). Odds are pretty good that you two weren't expecting this particular group to pop up on the blog anytime soon. Leave your thoughts for Alex below.)
Three 6 Mafia? Please, don’t leave just yet. Today I'm talking about the Three 6 Mafia of old, not the group that released “Lolli Lolli” or that other crunk nonsense that is now associated with the act. Time changes all, especially in hip hop, where, thanks to the Internet, a song can become dated within the span of a week. So,I don’t quite blame the Prophet Posse (seriously, now that’s an alias) for adjusting their style to adapt to the tastes of the everyday mainstream fickle hip hop fan. I suppose it's possible that the group wasn't actually pressured by their label to change; maybe it was a natural progression (or regression). I imagine it could get very tiring for a rapper to reuse the same formula over and over again (unless you're DMX or something). Their recent shift in sound also may be due to the fact that the Three 6 Mafia has been reduced to only two members, whereas back in the 1990s they had more affiliates than the fucking Wu-Tang Clan. Their album Chapter 1: The End, their second full-length project, featured Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, and Koopsta Knicca alongside the old standby Lord Infamous and the duo who retain the name, DJ Paul and Juicy J.
At age thirteen (I'm now eighteen, so don’t judge me: I listen to everything, from the Artifacts to the Geto Boys to J.Dilla), I didn’t really appreciate the music of the Three 6 Mafia. My friends were obsessed with their earlier work, I was forced to endure practically their entire discography while we drove around. I prefer my music to have actual messages and to showcase clever lyrical ability, but I enjoy some ignorant shit every now and then, so the crew's dark and cinematic beats, paired with paranoid rhymes, eventually reeled me in. Regardless of their current output, the Three 6 Mafia was once the most deranged, bugged out group in the industry.
And now I present Chapter 1: The End.
1. OUR ARRIVAL
Oh, how Max hates rap album intros. Rather pointless, but remember when I used the word “cinematic” earlier? This sets the overall tone of the album.
Downbeat and minimalist, but it gets the job done. With Three 6 Mafia, you tend to get an adrenaline-fueled instrumental and excited performances, but everyone sounds quite relaxed on here. Probably not the perfect introduction to the group: for that, I would skip ahead to the third track.
3. MONEY FLOW (FEAT. K-ROCK)
Be aware that many of the choruses on Chapter 1: The End consist of screwed samples that are hard to decipher. A very hypnotic beat takes you into a fast paced K-Rock guest verse, followed by a standout from DJ Paul. Everyone comes correct on here, making “Money Flow” one of the highlights of the album.
4. LATE NITE TIP
Even after I became a full-fledged fan of Chapter 1: The End, I remained wary of this track. Though this is a clear shot toward a more mainstream audience, the beat and, surprisingly, some of the subject matter don’t stray too far from the rest of the project. DJ Paul’s interaction with Gangsta Boo always made me laugh: “ I need a Coach bag” / “I can’t even be doin it” / “I need my hair done” / “Me too, I ain't got nothing to do with it”. Please note that the song is fucking censored .
5. GOTCHA SHAKIN’
This songs knocks: although it contains a lighter beat , it still has a strong sound to it. This song is a dis to onetime Three 6 affiliate Playa Fly over his own song, which DJ Paul & Juicy J had originally produced. Juicy J quickly gets to the point with his first few bars, as does the rest of the Triple 6. This is nothing more than threats and insults volleyed at the enemy, but this was a great song nonetheless.
6. I AIN’T GOIN’
The creepiest song on here thus far. A pretty broad song subject-wise, but it gets the job done. Infamous & Juicy J fit the track especially well.
7. GOOD STUFF
This is a tribute to all of the substances we abuse to feel better about ourselves. The first verse is especially amusing, with DJ Paul not being ashamed of his addiction to cocaine, going so far as to have people refer to him as a dope head instead of rich bum. Lord Infamous also lends a noteworthy verse discussing giving away that fire bud on Halloween to trick-or-treaters. I wish I lived in the Memphis projects on Halloween when I was younger.
8. WALK UP 2 YO HOUSE
This is a remake of an old, unreleased song from their catalog, and yet it is completely different. While the original was ominous & slower, this version keeps the dark tone but amps up the pace. The intro, with Three 6 knocking on a door to inform someone of their “health test” results, is still hilarious to me. Each member tells their own story of paranoia and murder.
9. IN 2 DEEP
Obviously, this is a song about being “In 2 Deep” in the drug game. Three 6’s brand of thug cockiness has always registered well with me because they don’t exactly glorify the lifestyle: they often speak of the perils and mindstate that it can put you in.
10. LAST MAN STANDING (FEAT. GANGSTA BLAC & M-CHILD)
Lord Infamous weaves one menacing story during the first verse over mellow keys and a screwed sampled hook. This was originally a clear Bone Thugs diss but was slightly changed and seems more subliminal now.
11. DESTRUCTION TERROR
This beat is what the ice cream truck guy in your neighborhood would play if he doubled as a sadistic serial killer. It uses the same sample as from Dru Down’s “Ice Cream Man” (coincidence?). Three 6 continue with their menacing threats and boasts, but come off just as fresh as they do on the rest of the album. Although many of the songs on Chapter 1: The End sound quite similar, the album surprisingly doesn’t wear out its welcome.
12. BODY PARTS (FEAT. K-ROCK, MC-MACK, M-CHILD, INDO G, & GANGSTA BLAC)
This song is cool and all, but after the superb sequencing leading up to this, the momentum kind of drops off unexpectedly.
13. WHERE’S DA BUD?
Another remake of an older track, this time with a completely different twist. The piano loop will definitely have you hooked, as will the fact that this is a Lord Infamous solo (yes!). His monotone, haunting voice fits the track quite well. You should definitely check out his second verse.
14. GET ‘EM CRUNK
This and “Body Parts” are the only songs on the Chapter 1: The End that even slightly resemble filler. I don't consider this to be a bad song, but the level of quality isn't even close to that of the rest of the project.
15. WHERE DA KILLAZ HANG (FEAT. PROJEC T PAT)
Everyone comes correct on this one, including guest star Project Pat. One of the best tracks on this album, and that’s a big feat in itself. I don't have much more to say.
16. THE END
An instrumental, which leads into…
17. LIFE OR DEATH (FEAT. MC-MACK & K-ROCK)
DJ Paul & Juicy J sample 2Pac’s opening monologue from Makaveli's “Bomb First (My Second Reply)” and make it into a fitting hook. Slow and downright creepy. A great way to end the album.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you’re not used to Three 6 Mafia or sadistic, Southern gangster rap in general, then Chapter 1: The End will take some time for you to digest. Sometimes it takes ten listens or more to understand even one verse from one of the many members, but when it comes down to it, it barely matters, as DJ Paul & Juicy J’s production lay down a gangster/horror flick soundtrack to some appalling (and appealing) rhyme schemes from every member of group.
BUY OR BURN? Buy this shit. You should download it first to see if it might be for you, but do the right thing by the group after you become enthralled and you have diverted funds away from your newly formed cocaine habit that the Three 6 Mafia has led you to.
BEST TRACKS: “Money Flow”; “Late Nite Tip”; “Gotcha Shakin’”; “Good Stuff”; “Walk Up 2 Yo House”; “Last Man Standin’”; “Where Da Killaz Hang”
(Questions? Comments? Leave your notes below.)