28 June, 2006@12:00 am
Until recently, Three 6 Mafia could be compared to M.O.P – loved and respected in their region, with legions of dedicated fans snatching up their every release – but more or less overlooked by mainstream society. Yet unlike most underground rappers, many hip-hop fans had heard of Three 6 Mafia, but few could actually name a song by the crew, despite the huge influence theyve had on the southern crunk scene. All of these factors combined made the title of their tenth (or so) record, The Most Known Unknown, pretty relevant during its initial 2005 release. But all of that changed in the last six months, with the crew releasing their biggest single to date, “Stay Fly”, plus winning an Oscar (yes, you read that correctly) for “Its Hard Out Here For A Pimp”, from the Hustle and Flow soundtrack. This new re-release of The Most Known Unknown takes these factors into account, giving you the most Three 6 for your buck.
Now including a whopping 22 tracks, the special edition re-release doesnt change much from the original, except that its a longer, beefier package than the previous edition. This can be either good news or bad news, depending on what your feelings on these guys are. The infectious “Stay Fly” reeled us all in last October, and it still sets the album off with equal delight, although for some strange reason the constantly blanking out edited version is included here. No fools, Three 6 Mafia killed two birds with one stone, employing another Willie Hutchinson sample for the “Stay Fly” follow-up single, “Poppin My Collar”, an equally addictive pimp anthem (one arguably better then their Oscar winning “Its Hard Out Here For A Pimp”, now included on this special edition). Believe it or not, they try this trick a yet again on “Dont Cha Get Mad” again sampling Hutchinson but the third time is not a charm. But while these soulful, sampled singles introduced a different side to Three Six Mafia, much of the rest of the album delivers the same brand of monotonous synth-bounce and blissfully simple rhymes found on the groups other ten records.
The new versions of “Side To Side” included here feature guest verses from Kanye West and Bow Wow (who does his best T.I. impression), both who steal the spotlight from the crew members on both occasions. This unfortunately is the case much of the time when guest artists appear, such as Paul Wall, who slowly drives this point home on “When I Pull Up At The Club”. The same can be said for the numerous guest shots from Slim Thug and Trick Daddy on the “Stay Fly (Still Fly Remix)”. But, as unapologetically dumb as these guys lyrics are, theres a certain amount of charm in their simplistic rhymes. Where else are you going to find rappers threatening to “Knock The Black Off Your Ass”, with boasts like “I got a mink coat more furry than Chewbacca” or “you n****s is nicer than grandmas and fuckin ladybugs”?
Granted, most of this shit is interchangeable with anything from else from the groups catalog. Sure, the album does have some short brushes with greatness, but most of the time you are laughing at them, not with them. Post-Oscar status, remaining members Juicy J and DJ Paul should apply themselves a little more, turning out stuff more like “Stay Fly” and “Poppin My Collar” (and not necessarily raping the Willie Hutchinson catalog to do so). Theyve transcended being The Most Known Unknown in 2006, now its time for them to step their game up. – Pizzo
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