What Went Wrong With… Three 6 Mafia?

A parody of the Mystic Stylez album cover

The recent death of Gangsta Boo got me thinking about how much Three 6 Mafia changed over the years. I’ll admit that I was more of a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fan but back in the mid-90’s, I heard Three 6’s debut album Mystic Stylez and loved their similarly double-time, horror-inspired Hip-Hop tracks like “Now I’m Hi Part 3”…

Unfortunately, after getting signed to a mainstream label, the group’s darker sounds slowly took a back seat to the Hip-Pop contrivances of the day. I never really listened to the group beyond the 1990’s apart from casually glancing at their ever-gaudier, No Limit-esque album covers which turned me off. Their musical direction in the 2000’s wasn’t at all for me and yet, like most other cases of watering-down art, the populous got drunk off the weaker shit and it therefore sold in higher units; the masses oblivious to the original, superior flavour. As an example of their metamorphosis, Three 6 Mafia’s song “Sippin On Some Syrup” was very popular but, in my opinion, it wasn’t in the same league as their earlier work.

The band’s earlier songs such as “Mask And Da Glock” and “Playa Hataz” have gone on to influence contemporary rappers like the $uicideboy$, Maxo Kream, and A$AP Rocky. Whenever their earlier aesthetic is borrowed, it results in decent Hip-Hop. This says something about Triple Six Mafia’s original sound and how it has stood the test of time…

The peak of Three 6 Mafia’s career for most fans is when they won an Oscar in 2006 for “Best Original Song” for the overrated movie Hustle And Flow. Of course Eminem, the mainstream’s great white hype, had to be the first Hip-Hop act to ever net an Academy Award, and once that achievement was attributed to a white man and etched into the history books, the scraps were then handed to an ethnic minority act, an act that had fallen so far that their music at that juncture in their career was almost unrecognisable if you’d heard them a decade prior.

It’s clear to me, that the ruling classes want minorities to be stereotypes, mostly negative stereotypes. In this case, black musicians who were once influenced by horror movies received a gold statue for writing a corny song attributed to a brothel-keeper. Marshall Mathers loses himself in the battle rap moment but damn, it’s oh so hard out here for a pimp…

As Biggie once rapped, in order to get out of the streets your choices are either “slingin’ crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot” but you’d think that once you’re a mainstream musician, you’re afforded a few more artistic and financial avenues. Not in the entertainment business it seems, and definitely not in the Hip-Hop genre. Be a caricature of your demographic’s negative stereotype and you can tell everyone you’ve made it. Sip lean, pimp hoes, tear da club up but don’t be unique and never fight the powers that be.

Triple Platinum.

From The Vaults Of

This is a previously unpublished article I started in 2015 and later edited in 2019. The opening sentence has been added to bring this up to date and is also the reason I’m posting it now. Also check out this new Spotify playlist:

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