DAR Hip Hop: Three 6 Mafia's Prime Run (1997-2005)

By @TrueGodImmortal

Three 6 Mafia is one of the greatest groups of all time in hip hop, and once upon a time, they were on top of the world. After their initial arrival in the mid 90s, the group would experience regional success before finally breaking through. With the production of members DJ Paul and Juicy J leading the way, the group would deliver some of the hardest hitting tracks in musoc, with their focus being putting Memphis even more so on the map. Their work in 1995 and 1996 was top notch, but it would be 1997 that stands as the year that opened up their prime, as the classic Chapter 2: World Domination led them to the promised land of gold plaques and near platinum status. From there, the group would release a plethora of projects over the years, continuing their prime all the way up until 2006, when they won an Oscar and debuted a new WWE theme song for Mark Henry. Today, we take a look at the music during that 1997-2005 prime run and the albums that made them the legends they are today. Let's get into it.

*Chapter 2: World Domination (1997)

-We look back at the album that is seen as a turning point for the group. It was essentially the beginning of the end for the group with mostly darker beats and a darker style. Three 6 was headed for more mainstream appeal and this album would be the one to breakthrough for the group. The album would become certified gold, as it would sell over 800,000 copies, marking the first time the group had managed to do such a feat. There were four songs from previous albums included here, but there is plenty of new material to go around, even though my favorite song "Late Nite Tip" is from a previous release. The group delivers tracks like "Hit A Muthafucka", "Are You Ready 4 Us", "I Ain't Cha Friend", and many more on what is my favorite Three 6 album. This would set off a huge run for the group.

*Tear Da Club Up Thugs- CrazyNDaLazDayz (1999)

-So, this is not an official Three 6 album, but it might as well be. A subgroup of Three 6 that features DJ Paul, Lord Infamous, and Juicy J, this album would become one of the best in the entire Hypnotize Minds catalog, with features from Twista, Project Pat, Too Short, Spice 1, Cash Money, and more. The one thing about Hypnotize Minds projects is that the tracklists were always extensive, and that was no different here. Still, the group delivered classics in the long tracklist like my all time favorite "Hypnotize Cash Money", the classic "Slob On My Knob", "What You Lookin' For", and the hilarious "Undercover Freaks". Of course, no Three 6 album is perfect, but this is a top notch album from the collective.

*Three 6 Mafia Presents: Hypnotize Camp Posse (2000)

-This was a simple compilation album, with some anthems and booming tracks, and while it wasn't an official Three 6 album, it featured all the members alongside the rest of the artists on the Hypnotize Minds label. Project Pat steals the show from time to time in multiple appearances, along with La Chat making her presence felt. The highlights include "We Ain't Playin", "Dick Suckin' Hoes", "Hoes Can Be Like Niggaz", and "Die A Soldier". This wasn't a commercially successful project, but it was still an important chapter in the Three 6 book.

*When The Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000)

-This was the album that took the group to the next level in so many ways. For the group, they were leaning towards a more mainstream sound and this was the most mainstream sounding album in their catalog (up until this point at least). This album would be a platinum success, boosted by the hit singles "Who Run It", "Sippin' On Some Syrup", and "Tongue Ring". With features by UGK, Project Pat, Big Gipp, Fiend, Insane Clown Posse, and Young Buck, the group delivers an album that remains their best seller and their most infamous release (and their debatable best project).

*Choices: The Album (2001)

-This soundtrack was interesting, as the group would be at the height of their initial popularity, and releasing a movie is usually what signals top tieir popularity for a hip hop collective. The movie was.... comedic fodder, but the soundtrack features some excellent music from Three 6 and their posse, with hit records like "2 Way Freak" and "Baby Mama" being the driving force for the promotion. The soundtrack apparently went gold and continued the winning streak for Three 6, and features some excellent guest appearances from Project Pat, Ludacris, T-Rock, among others. If I had to rank these projects, this would be a bit higher on the list than some of the later Three 6 albums. It is the last true release that embodies that late 90s-very early 2000s vibe of Three 6. This soundtrack wasn't a classic, but it was a great listen from start to finish. Turn up "Dis Bitch, Dat Hoe", "Gangsta Niggaz", "Mafia", and other high powered tracks and enjoy.

*Da Unbreakables (2003)

-While the group wasn't in their true musical prime, they were definitely in their commercial prime, as every album seemed to spawn a major hit and radio singles that charted better than expected. The departure of Gangsta Boo and Koopsta Knicca left the group slightly in shambles and signals a change for the group of course, and they were finishing up their working relationship with Loud before moving onto Sony. This album was more so in the middle than their previous releases, but was still a solid listen with tracks like "Ridin' Spinners", "Testin' My Gangsta", "Bin Laden", and other songs. This album went gold continuing their winning streak, but the question was could the Mafia recover after losing so many important members? Their next album and the last album we will cover in this article would tell the story.

*Most Known Unknown (2005)

-The Mafia seemed to lose a member with every release at this point. The lack of an appearance from Lord Infamous on the album and him missing from the cover due to a stint in jail left many wondering what this project would sound like, but in my opinion, this album was better than their previous project. Sure, it was nothing like their previous albums from years prior, but this album definitely captured a more soulful element to the group and seemed to be the evolution of the infamous Mafia. Three 6 delivers an anthem for Tennessee with the Young Buck, 8Ball & MJG featured classic "Stay Fly", make another classic on the epic "Poppin My Collar", and even the album tracks like the Project Pat featured "Roll With It" and "Knock Tha Black Off Ya Ass" are great to listen to. The only knock is that some of the guest appearances near the end of the album leave a little to be desired, but for the most part, Most Known Unknown does what Three 6 does best, and earn another platinum plaque, ending their prime run with a bang.



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