Three 6 Mafia
|DJ Paul||Paul Beauregard|
|Juicy J||J. Houston|
|Lord Infamous||Ricky Dunigan|
|Koopsta Knicca||(Unknown by author)|
|Gangsta Boo||Lola Mitchell|
|Crunchy Black||Darnell Carlton|
Label(s): Prophet Entertainment
Three 6 Mafia (formerly Triple 6 Mafia) is an Academy-Award winning American rap group originating from Memphis, Tennessee. Formed in 1991 by DJ Paul, Lord Infamous, and Juicy J, they shortly thereafter recruited fellow Memphian rappers Koopsta Knicca, Gangsta Boo, and Crunchy Black. The group also frequently collaborates with Project Pat (the brother of Juicy J). Their 2005 song, "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp", won Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards.
The group released their horror-core début underground album Smoked Out, Loc'ed Out in 1994 through Prophet Entertainment, a record label they created but have since relinquished control over. Their musical style—which initially featured dark, menacing beats with equally gritty lyrics—has since moved to a more mainstream sound. Nonetheless, they have cultivated a sizeable and diverse cult following that has only increased since their Oscar win. They have recently released their ninth studio album Last 2 Walk, which hit shelves June 24, 2008. They recently promoted their album at SOBE Live an infamous hip hop club located in the heart of South Beach.
The Early Years
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 hip hop group was "Backyard Posse", followed shortly after by "Triple Six Mafia". The group formed through release of many EPs from their own record company with Nick Scarfo, Prophet Entertainment, later launching their own label, Hypnotize Minds Records; during their early career, they also propelled the careers of several other rappers.
At this point in the group's evolution, having signed to a major label and having scored an admirable hit single, group leaders DJ Paul and Juicy J began extending their brand. They started by releasing group member solo albums (Gangsta Boo, Koopsta Knicca), non-group member solo albums (Project Pat, The Kaze) and also compilation-styled albums (Tear Da Club Up Thugs, Hypnotize Camp Posse, Da Headbussaz, and Prophet Posse). Around this time, they also released collections of tracks from earlier years (Underground Vol. 1: (1991-1994), Underground Vol. 2: Club Memphis, Underground Vol. 3: Kings of Memphis).
Follow-Ups & Lineup Changes
In 2000, the official Three 6 Mafia follow-up to the Chapter 2 album, When the Smoke Clears, was released. With the success of the lead single, "Sippin’ on Some Sizzurp" in a few non-Southern markets, the album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200. It received little MTV airplay and little national radio rotation.
This era also saw the departure of two members. In 2000, Koopsta Knicca left due to a monetary dispute; In 2001, Gangsta "Lady" Boo left to pursue a solo career, citing religious differences.
The group later began work on the direct-to-video film, Choices: The Movie, and affiliated solo albums. Choices and its accompanying soundtrack (Choices: The Album) were released in 2001. In 2002, there were two solo releases from the group's two producers. One from DJ Paul called Underground Vol. 16: For Da Summa and one called Chronicles of the Juice Man by Juicy J.
In 2003, Three 6 Mafia released the album Da Unbreakables, which features collaborations with Lil' Flip, Pimp C (from UGK), Lil Wyte, Frayser Boy and Project Pat. The album produced the hit "Ridin' Spinners," which featured Lil' Flip. Videos for "Ridin' Spinners" and "Ghetto Chick" were also made.
In 2005, the group released their follow up direct-to-video, Choices II: The Set Up, and their highly-anticipated album, Most Known Unknown. It was notable that Lord Infamous was missing from this album. The generally accepted reason was that he had been incarcerated; however, Three 6 Mafia claimed he was "on vacation." The album includes the hit "Stay Fly", featuring Young Buck and 8 Ball & MJG. They also worked on the movie Hustle & Flow, which would lead them to an award and released a greatest hits album, Most Known Hits
Academy Award Win
On March 5, 2006, Three 6 Mafia made history as they became the first black music group to win an Academy Award for Best Song (the first black artist to do so was Isaac Hayes for Theme from Shaft in 1971) and also became the first hip-hop artists to ever perform at the ceremony. The group was nominated for the song "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp" from the Hustle & Flow soundtrack. This marked the second time a rap act has won an Academy Award, following Eminem in 2002.
Three 6 Mafia were credited by their real names, Jordan Houston (Juicy J) and Paul Beauregard (DJ Paul), along with Cedric Duane Coleman (Frayser Boy), although host Jon Stewart did refer to them as "Three 6 Mafia" after their victory, saying "To recap, Three 6 Mafia: 1. Martin Scorsese: 0." Scorsese would finally receive his own Oscar, for Best Director, the following year.