It’s been a long road for Three 6 Mafia but, after rapping together for well over 15 years, the group has recently broken through to see a new level of success that even their most dedicated fans didn’t see coming. DJ Paul and Juicy J are indeed the Last 2 Walk of the original six members, but they also managed to win an Oscar before Martin Scorsese and do a song with Justin Timberlake; they must be doing something right. Still, with the group seeming to lose a member with each passing album, one might wonder what the group even is anymore.
Hustle & Flow helped bring Three 6 to a whole new audience and while they haven’t changed their style completely, they find interesting ways to nod towards their expanding listener base. “I Got” chops up a Zombie Nation sample (if you’ve ever been to a college bar, you’ll recognize it when you hear it) into some kind of anthem for a Memphis soccer riot. On “My Own Way,” Three 6 surprisingly teams up with Good Charlotte; it isn’t exactly the best song that either group has put out but the novelty alone has the potential to make it a hit.
More than just heavy drums and bass, the beats are surprisingly complex. “That’s Right” goes further than just a four bar loop to add drama and while “On Some Chrome” doesn’t have anything to do with the holidays, it actually flips a Christmas carol into a banger. No joke, it knocks. Hard. Still, with over 20 tracks (the digital version has 24), ditching about a half dozen tracks would’ve done a lot to tighten up the experience. While Paul and J are good at what they do, they mostly stay in one mode and after awhile it just gets to be too much.
Paul and J have clearly found a way to move past their early days as a vaguely unsettling Horrorcore act and appeal to the mainstream. They never take themselves too seriously. So even if the duo isn’t normally “your thing,” it’s hard to hate on their style. No, Three 6 isn’t exactly the most prolific pair of lyricists in the game, but their music is deliberately for the trunks and clubs. It’s hard to say if DJ Paul and Juicy J are better off without the others, but Last 2 Walk certainly proves that they’re capable of carrying the weight.