Memory Lane: A Digital Museum of Three 6 Mafia’s Mystic Stylez


Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)

The legacy of Three 6 Mafia is almost as mysterious as their music. Originally forming in the early 1990s, DJ Paul and Lord Infamous–then known as the duo Da Serial Killaz–spent their early years reading about the diabolical mind. Paul literally hung portraits of serial killers on the wall in his bedroom and studied their dark motives to get inspiration for what he would eventually put on wax. Years later, Paul and his half brother would release music of their own with Portrait Of A Serial Killa in 1992.

Memphis’ hip-hop scene at the time wasn’t really noteworthy outside of the surrounding states. Early Gangsta Pat tapes provided some structure on how to record what would eventually blossom into the M-Town sound. From 1992 to 1994 prospective Memphis cliques jockeyed for the city’s attention. The unheralded nature of Memphis’ rap output only fueled the fire for those from the area to support their own. If you had songs that got play in the clubs or more importantly, bumped in the whip on Sunday’s at the Crystal Palace skating ring, you were on and there was profit to be had. Mixtapes at the time could sell upwards of 100,000 copies with little overhead. Very few artists had music videos out, radio play, or even a recording budget.

After Paul and Lord met up with group co-founder Juicy J (and subsequently Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca and Gangsta Boo in later years) the group decided to release their official debut album as Three 6 Mafia. Mystic Stylez was like a snuff film. Its lo-fi element only adds intrigue to those who dare listen. It represents the terror of a Son of Sam killing combined with the intrigue of an early 90s episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Its sonic element is also something of note outside of the horrocore genre. Lord Infamous’ trademark tongue-twisting flow, which is heavily prevalent on the LP, is still commonly used among rappers today. Paul and Juicy’s deep drums and quick-hitting hi-hats also offered a blueprint still followed by many notable southern producers.

Released on May 23, 1995, Mystic Stylez provided an opus to what horrocore hip-hop is. After two decades and the on again, off again relationship between Three 6’s members, the album still stands firm as one of the south’s greatest, if you really do the knowledge. NahRight recently spoke with members and affiliates of the group about the project and its impact.

Group 1

Members from both Skinny’s crew and Triple 6 assembling in North Memphis

Who: (From left to right) Kingpin Skinny Pimp, MC Wicked, 211, Juicy J, DJ Paul

When: 1992

Where: Hurt Village, Memphis

In Retrospect: “Back then there wasn’t a lot of rappers like there is now. Now there’s ‘New Memphis’ and they call us ‘Old Memphis’ and back in the day the old Memphis had no major marketing behind it so we really had to go underground. Gangsta Pat and them, Spanish Fly, all these guys had their own little style and it was so valuable but nobody really knew its worth or if they did it wasn’t out there for everyone to really hear it. But it was worth so much. You could sell a Gangsta Pat tape in Mississippi or in Arkansas for $25 or $30. People wanted it so bad. I had a record store and they used to come and buy tapes for us for whatever. They just wanted it because the style was so unique. All his shit was hard as fuck. It was real gangsta ass music.” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

“Me and Lord [Infamous] lived together because that’s my brother so we formed this group called Da Serial Killaz and we put out an EP called Tha Portrait Of A Serial Killa. I had three songs on that. It was jammin’ and it was horrocore so it was straight hardcore shit. We put those out and we would sell those. We sold like 2,000 copies of those. I was in like the 10th grade, he was in 11th. It was a full tape, we had the full artwork, it was like a full, real tape. I started working on mixtapes just to learn how to use my equipment because I had just bought it. We ended up putting out [Come With Me To HellVol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 and that’s how we got to Vol. 4. That’s when we started to put original songs out. Before that, it was just mixes of other people’s songs. That’s when we got more serious.” – DJ Paul

Group Pic 6

Triple 6 Mafia at the meeting table. The group’s first record label, Prophet Entertainment, was founded in 1991

“Me and Paul went to school together. I got kicked out of that school. I was in a group home. [When we did go to school together] he used to write his name on the board. I was like, ‘Who do you think you is?’ So we used to check each other. I got kicked out [of that school] and I went to Northside and I got kicked out of there. They shipped me out of town to Knoxville to another group home and I came back [and] a friend of mine said, ‘Hey man, you know Paul mixing tracks and stuff now. Give him a call man!’ I called him and we hooked up. It was me, Paul, Lord Infamous and Juicy had his own side–Project Pat, La Chat and all that. We got together, did some songs and then we teamed up with Juicy and made Triple 6 Mafia. Then we split off from there and it was just the four of us–Me, Paul, Lord and Juicy. I think Boo came around years later and we put her on one or two songs on Mystic Stylez. Crunchy didn’t really rap [at the time] he was always a friend and around [us]. You would see him on the cover and he rapped on some songs but in the beginning [he wasn’t rapping].” – Koopsta Knicca

“I met Juicy J through a local Memphis rapper, he was someone I used to rap with back in the day. We were going to high school. I knew him by hearing him on the local albums, CDs and shit. He heard me rap one day and was like, ‘I’m going to hook you in with Juicy’ and Juicy ended up calling me one night and was like, ‘I heard you could rap!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I can rap.’ He was like, ‘Aiight, go and bust a freestyle.’ I was like, ‘Uhhh, my mom is in here [laughs].’ I was probably like 14 or 15. He was like, ‘Aw, I thought you could rap,’ and he hung up. I was like, ‘Aw, I done missed my chance.’ He ended up calling me back later on that night and was like, ‘Hey what’s up, how you doing? You got a different atmosphere? I really want to hear you rap.’ I went outside and busted a freestyle for him. He was like, ‘Aw, you bumpin!’ And we kind of went from there.” – La Chat

“I originally grew up in the north side of Memphis and I met Juicy at Club 380. He was a DJ at the time and I was doing my thing at the time–going to different studios in the city, making songs. [There was] this one track I created called ‘Let’s Make A Stang.’ [Juicy] heard the junt and put it on his mixtape. I met him at the club and he played the record and fools went ham in the junt. It had that crunk to it and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to put this on the mixtape.’ Then we started working. He started producing other tracks. Then he started producing for Paul and started doing features on their collaboration tapes.” – M.C. Mack

Mystic Styles Tape Pre

One of the many mixtapes that preceded Mystic Stylez. Backyard Posse, Tear Da Club Up Thugs, Triple 6 Mafia and other affiliate groups had already released tens of mixtapes before Three 6’s official debut LP.

“[DJ Paul] was putting my music on his mixtapes and I was upset about it. Back then, when we was coming up, we never knew how the music business went. We was just trying to do music. Back when I was with DJ Squeeky, we was recording mostly with like me, him, 8Ball & MJG, Homicyde, 211, all of us were the hottest guys in Memphis and so if someone had some of our stuff on their mix CDs we were upset because we knew we was the hottest rappers out. Paul and them were more or less starting out. They were recording but they name wasn’t all the way out there like that [like] how ours was. When me and Squeeky got into it, it was about some petty ass shit, it wasn’t about nothing, I ended up going over there with Paul and them and we started doing mix CDs. We was doing mixtapes about each other. It really blew Paul and them up because everyone wanted to hear what I had to say. Paul had them beats and Juicy ended up coming over and joining the squad. It was really me and Paul, Lord and whoever Paul had down back then.” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

“I started rapping in the underground/local Memphis and Juicy seen me doing my thing and by the time they had got that deal after [World Domination] and everything was going well, they was looking to sign some more artists and he called me up and was like, ‘Chat, we want to sign you. We want you. You bumpin!’ Can you come down to the studio?’ I was like, ‘Yeah I can come right now.’ I went to the studio and we ended up dropping Hypnotized Camp Posse. We ended up recording numerous tracks.” – La Chat

“We met up with [Juicy J] through a friend of mine named Homicyde. He rapped, had some hot songs out and he introduced me to Juicy like, ‘I got a friend named Juicy J, he want to come over your house and use your equipment so he can help you make some beats.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of Juicy, he’s cool.’ So Juicy started coming over my house and me and him would make beats together for his mixtape. I ended up joining they crew, which was the Backyard Posse. That was Juicy and Homicyde’s crew and everything just started from there. Once I joined they crew and we started putting out those Backyard Posse tapes and our own tapes of everybody. Homicide had his own, Juicy had his own. I think we made one or two Backyard Posse tapes. I think Juicy and Homicyde ended up falling out so then me and Juicy created our own crew, and it was Triple 6 Mafia. Me and Juicy was the leaders of the team. I made the name up but the name came from something Lord Infamous said in a song. We basically took all of his artists and all of my artists and put them together. He brought Project Pat, M.C. Mack and some other guys. I brought all the people who ended up forming Three 6 Mafia–Lord Infamous, Koopsta Knicca, Crunchy Black and Gangsta Boo because all of us went to school together.” – DJ Paul

Paul x Juicy

Juicy J and DJ Paul chilling on a couple of old schools presumably in either 1992 or 1993

“[Juicy J] was the man who helped me. We went half-and-half on the studio time. We paid $4,500 to record and mix Mystic Stylez and Juicy helped make beats as well. I would be on my keyboard and I would sample and do drums. Juicy didn’t really play keys too much so he controlled the drum machine. I would use my Roland W30 keyboard and he would use an MPC 60 drum machine and we would put them together and make a lot of the beats together. Both of us also wrote songs. He, Lord Infamous and I wrote hooks and we were the three main writers of the songs.” – DJ Paul

“Paul and Juicy was doing business together but I never knew about it. I just thought Juicy popped up and just came over. I didn’t know he started working with Juicy until he came over to Paul house when we was doing our stuff. We called ourselves the Backyard Posse. Homicyde the one who made up ‘Backyard’ so when Juicy came over it was like he joined our Backyard Posse and what we had going. When Juicy joined [Backyard Posse] that’s when I started working with Juicy. Everybody knew who Juicy J was but I never met him.

“The time I met Juicy was when he put one of my songs on his mixtape. Me and 211 were in the projects listening to it like, ‘What the hell? That’s the last song on the mix CD…’ When we started working with Paul and Juicy, my name was already hot because I had left Squeeky and them, and when I went over there I did the song ‘Lookin’ For Da Chewin.’ We was already hot as a team: Me, 8Ball & MJG, [DJ] Zirk, Kilo [G], all of us had already did ‘Lookin’ For Da Chewin’ so when I had already done my verse, Paul redid it. People just love that verse for some reason.” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

Paul Equipment

DJ Paul’s home studio. The Three 6 Mafia co-producer used a SP-1200 sampler to produce a lot of the album, all on 13-bit sound.

“We didn’t even think about [the lo-fi] element back then. It was good that it came out like that. We didn’t know sound like that. Now I know sound but back in those days when you had a drum machine, an SP-1200 or an MPC and it would only put out 13-bit sound, we didn’t like that. We were like, ‘Damn, I wish it would be more clearer but it’s not.’ It was just like fuck it, that’s just how equipment was back in those days. We recorded the album on reel-to-reels. There wasn’t no Pro Tools back then. We tried to get it as clear and crisp as we could but between recording it on worn equipment, reels and putting that heavy bass in there, which skirted it out even more, that’s what gave it that sound. That’s why people love it. People said it sound so hard so now when I be talking to people on Instagram, they be like, ‘I hope it sound like the old stuff man!’ So I’m glad it came out like it did back then.” – DJ Paul

“In the mixtape scene I was paying Juicy to be a solo producer on my cassette tapes, doing a couple records for me that I could put out on Pimpin’ As A Mack, Talez from da Mackside, stuff like that. I was making my name kind of on the independent tip but it was also like, ‘We’re going to get you on the Mystic Stylez album too.’ I also got to perform on the Paul and Juicy [Vol. 3] Spring Mix mixtape and that was the final mixtape that I rapped on on cassette tape before CDs. Mystic Stylez was the first CD that I ever rapped on. It was a big thing back then if you were from Memphis coming up on cassette tapes and go to CDs because they didn’t make CDs. It was awesome to be on a CD. I don’t think anyone thought that it was going to be as big as it is now.” – M.C. Mack

“We recorded [Mystic Stylez] in the middle of the fucking projects. It was a side of town we wasn’t from. Juicy was from there and Koopsta was from there but nobody else in the group. We were from the south side but we [recorded] it on the north side. We would just jump in my car. I had a 1972 Pontiac Catalina convertible. Me, Koop, Crunchy, Boo, Lord, all of us would jump in the car, drive over there, meet Juicy and we recorded man. We used to go everyday. Then we would walk down the street to the Whataburger and get something to eat and we just had a good time recording. It was an old R&B singer that recorded the album. He would always tell us stories about his group traveling the world and when groups get older they travel overseas and do tours. I was like, ‘Man, that’s cool. I want to do that one day.’” – DJ Paul

King Of Da Playaz Ball

Kingpin Skinny Pimp released his debut album, King Of Da Playaz Ball in 1996 via Prophet Entertainment. DJ Paul credits him for expanding Three 6 Mafia’s content from being strictly horrocore-based

“I was trying to get signed by Rap-A-Lot [Records] either before or after I was recording [Mystic Stylez]. I was going back-and-forth from Houston and there was a young artist named Mebo Soprano. His pops was the first one to fly me to Houston to see if I could do any networking with Rap-A-Lot and he had an artist named Slick. His dad used to let me come stay at his house and me and Slick would go to Rap-A-Lot everyday and try to get a deal [laughs]. That was my first time on a plane. His dad used to own a liquor store and we would stay down there working and going to Rap-A-Lot a lot. I did a lot of writing at Rap-A-Lot and then when I come back to Memphis I had my whole album finished. I thought about signing to Rap-A-Lot but they hassled me for so long and that was right before Do Or Die came out, I used to be around all them guys, Do Or Die, 5th Ward Boyz, Scarface, I even met Ice Cube.

“When I got back to Memphis I was ready. I don’t know if I recorded [my part] for Mystic Stylez when I got back or before I left but I know it was during that time. It was like I was still with the crew, but I was trying to sign a better way too and that can help both of us out. I never thought about just me. I thought if I could make it doing this–and doing it with Rap-A-Lot–I was trying to look for a way out but all the time Paul and them had something going on. So we ended up recording the Mystic Stylez album. I think I even wrote a verse for Paul on the album. When we [finished] recording the album I was like, ‘Yeah this shit’s bangin!’ I was planning on bringing my album out to Rap-A-Lot but when I didn’t go there I was like, ‘Hell, I might as well sign with my guys ‘cause these are my niggas. We going to put this shit together.’” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

“Skinny Pimp was like the hottest rapper out at the time in Memphis. He was actually with another DJ that was my enemy at that time. We cool now but at that time we was at each other’s throat, pulled guns on each other, all kinds of crazy shit. When Skinny and him fell apart and started fighting then Skinny came to me and I became Skinny’s producer. I started producing all his stuff all the way up until the independent album we released, King Of Da Playaz Ball. I took Skinny under my wing and developed him more. I kicked into another gear when I got Skinny ‘cause when I was producing stuff for me and Lord. I was making more of the horrocore stuff but when I started making stuff for Skinny he had a different style. So I started bringing a different style of music to him and that’s when I started to broaden out more. It was more club shit, booty-shaking shit, all kind of shit. I give Skinny the credit for turning me into the producer I am now. He didn’t turn me into it but with him being so hot I had to bring it to the table. With his song style, I started making super crazy shit.” – DJ Paul

Cars and Group

Members of Three 6 Mafia accompanied by a few of their whips in Memphis during the mid ’90s

Who: (From left to right) DJ Paul, Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, Juicy J

When: 1995

Where: Memphis, Tennessee

In Retrospect: “‘Da Summa’ was influenced by old Memphis, ‘In Da Game’ was influenced by Memphis and there were more. Mostly [the ones influenced] by the Memphis hip-hop scene at the time either had soul samples or live guitar basslines in them. ‘Live By Yo Rep (B.O.N.E. Diss)’ was influenced by Memphis because it also had features of Soul [music] in the background. All of it is influenced by Memphis because Memphis is such a musical city but you have those certain records that we did that’re straight Memphis.” – DJ Paul

“[Memphis] influenced a lot. It influenced everybody. We was weird to people, we were scary, we were different and even what we talked about, we was so good when we rapped about it [and] to be so young. It influenced a lot of folks. It’s in everything. It’s mostly like those rapping right now. They got our sound. A lot of people took Lord Infamous’ flow. And people even use stutter rap. I had something to do with the beginning of stutter rap but to be honest I got that part from Michael Jackson. I have that whiny style too. I don’t want to say that [artists] are stealing because I don’t mind. We did a lot for the rap scene now.” – Koopsta Knicca

“Paul picked me and [Playa Fly] up from some apartments called The Courtyard [to record “Live By Yo Rep [B.O.N.E. Diss],” Fly was at my house smoking some regular weed, and I lived in those apartments and he was over there. We was actually at my lady friend house at the time–I used to babysit her kids–and it’s so weird because she dead now. Paul picked us up. He had a white convertible with a burgundy top. He picked me and Fly up and we went to the studio.” – Gangsta Boo

“The scene was wild in the ‘90s in Memphis. We always had parties. There was always going to be some fighting, always going to be some shooting. Like I said, everyone was coming from cassette tapes and there were other DJs around the city that had names but Paul and J were kind of the first to introduce CDs, which gave them kind of a boost and a big influence during that time.” – M.C. Mack

DJ Paul Car

DJ Paul posing in front of a white Lexus convertible; one of the many cars he drove back in the day

“We loved cars, we was always into cars. I would say it’s a big part of the scene in Memphis but if you look at it, it’s a big part of the scene everywhere. If you go on the West Coast they’ve got old schools, they just have it a different way. You’ve got to have the old schools man. The old schools, it’s just that feel with them. We rode a lot of old schools and they did influence the music a lot because we rapped about them a lot. We had the song ‘Ridin’ In Da Chevy.’ I always talked about real cars I have or I had at that time. I never talk about cars I don’t have, which made it so cool for me. I kept it 100 and that’s what made it easy for me to rap about because I get into specifics.

“It was real crazy back in those days because the car scene was such a big deal and such a big influence on the music because it was safe to go out back then more than it is now. We used to have a scene on Sundays. We would get together and meet down on South Parkway at the park and then end up at the Southgate Shopping Center in South Memphis and that was something people looked forward to. We would get together, ride in the cars or meet up at the skating ring or even that you saw on Hustle N Flow where they showed the cars in the parking lot of the Crystal Palace skating ring. People would go there at night and that was what it was all about. It was about showing up, showing your new paint job, showing your new rims, blasting your sound system and preferably playing something new that nobody ever heard before so everybody would be like, ‘Aw, what you playing?’ ‘Man that’s that new Triple 6, that new DJ Paul, new Juicy, etc.’ I would always sit back low key and try to make nobody know me. That era was influential. Just seeing people riding like that, going through there and bumping my music and seeing what songs they liked the most, and then turn around and just talk about it.” – DJ Paul

Mystic Stylez Cover

Gangsta Boo is notably absent from the Mystic Stylez cover. She says the rest of the group kept her off of it because they were afraid she would make it more “girly”

“I was mad as hell that I wasn’t on the cover because [I was like], ‘Man I thought I was in the group?’ At first the group started off as a collective, it was whoever was down with the posse, and then they separated everyone and just made it a group of six and I was, at the time, in the group of six, which was Paul, Juicy, Koopsta, Crunchy, Lord Infamous and me but they thought adding a female on the cover would be too girly or too stupid looking [laughs]. They were wrong obviously because I became a real strong, key member of the group and [was one of the] only members that put solo albums out outside of the group.” – Gangsta Boo

“Over the years Project Pat started saying he wasn’t going to cuss no more and he didn’t want to rap no more, some crazy shit. So it was just everyone on the cover. It just started rolling from there… I came up with the title Mystic Stylez. Lord Infamous used to use the word ‘mystic’ or ‘mystical one’ but he helped me create the whole dark sound to Three 6 Mafia. So when it came [time] to writing those songs, he was a super lead part in writing those songs because he knew that style more than anyone else in the group outside of me because me and Lord studied serial killers and shit. We used to keep magazines, serial killer books in the studio. That’s why we called [ourselves] Da Serial Killaz because we always had an infatuation with serial killers. The house that I’m in right now, I actually got a picture one day with a big collection of black and white photos of serial killers. Since we studied serial killers so much we knew so much about them. Just that mind frame and watching all the horror movies we were watching together as kids, it was in us. It was in us more than anyone else in the group. It was in Koop as well. He was another part of the dark side.” – DJ Paul

“I was on ‘Mystic Stylez’ the song. Me, Paul and Juicy all met up at the studio in North Memphis over there off Danny Thomas and it was a cool studio man. I don’t even think it was digital yet. Everyone was there when I got there. There were actually a couple of songs that were being recorded that day. And we went ahead and did the posse song and the rest was history.” – M.C. Mack

Paul x Lord

DJ Paul and Lord Infamous. Lord passed away in December 2013 shortly after being a key player in the forming of Three 6 subsidiary group, Da Mafia 6ix.

“Lord Infamous said ‘Triple 6 Mafia’ in a song once. I liked when he said that. I was like, ‘Aw, that’s cool.’ And that’s when we were Backyard Posse at the time. So I was like, ‘Aw, I got an idea for a name, we’re going to call it Triple 6 Mafia.’ And then we started doing it. Even though me and Juicy were the Three 6 Mafia head [guys], covered record labels, etc. And me and Juicy were always the leaders and the guys who put the money behind everything but Lord was like the third in charge or the second in charge under us two… Another reason he was [a main player] was because he was one of the songwriters. Me and Juicy made all the beats and we wrote most of the songs but Lord Infamous wrote a lot of hooks too. ‘Where’s Da Bud At?,’ ‘Late Night Tip,’ he actually played the baseline on ‘Where’s Da Bud At?’ He wrote a lot of the songs especially on Tear Da Club Up Thugs. He did a lot of the hooks for us. He was a very valuable part in the whole deal of our establishment.” – DJ Paul

“When I first started rapping a little, Lord Infamous was one of the [phone] numbers I had. I used to call everyday and be like, ‘Listen to me rap, listen to me rap!’ And he finally listened to me rap. I ended up in the studio at Paul’s mama’s house in the closet rapping. He brought a lot of mysterious mystique to the Three 6 Mafia brand–not even just the group–the brand. We were always known as a dark group and the reason it was called Mystic Stylez was because each one of us is mystic. Each one of us had our own different styles and it came together so well.

“If Lord Infamous wasn’t in the group I don’t really know if it would be called a group, I don’t know if it would have been as dark and as mystic as it was if it wasn’t for Lord Infamous because at the time I don’t think Paul did a lot of writing. He was mostly producing and was DJing and he probably didn’t give a damn about writing because he was so good at making them beats. I think Lord Infamous had a super heavy influence.” – Gangsta Boo

Paul and Lord

Lord Infamous and his half-brother, DJ Paul in the early ’90s. The duo would be the co-founders of what would eventually become Three 6 Mafia.

“Lord got the group back together and we was recording on the album in Memphis House of Blues, did some shows and I got that phone call that he passed away. He wasn’t taking his medicine. It was just shocking because you grow up with someone you go through a lot especially when you made stuff happen. People didn’t believe that you could do it from Memphis. They used to call us “trash, ghetto” or whatever. I just remember he was the person I did everything with, [we] hustled and worked hard and now he passed away.

“He was very quiet and funny. We would make the songs, songs. Me and him were the emcees while Paul and Juicy were the DJs. We would sit down and tell each other, ‘Hey, I know you’re going to come hard [on this track]’ and he would ask me the same and we would do a great job. We would come up with the stories. We had the style in the group. I don’t mean no harm to the other group members but we had the Triple 6 in the Triple 6. He was a good person and I appreciate him giving me another chance and now I kind of feel like I’m alone. Everybody got they styles but me and Lord created, Lord was the creator. He put the Triple 6 in Triple 6. We miss him, man.” – Koopsta Knicca

“[Lord Infamous] was always a fun guy. Always laughing. He’s going to make you smile even if you’re having a bad day. If you knew him, you knew he was a very cool, down-to-Earth cat. I had the pleasure of knowing him and just being able to travel with him and being able to experience being on the same records with him, it was a big honor. [He was a] really cool person mane. It was a big loss for Memphis hip-hop when we lost Lord mane. Rest in piece. Even throughout the years when we were coming up and doing our thing with Three 6 and doing the features on the KamiKaze album and stuff like that, he really showed me how true he was when I was doing my independent thing and featured him on ‘Money Motivated.’ I reached out to him and he came to the studio and laid a verse down. It showed the crew how it really was and I will forever be grateful for that.” – M.C. Mack

Paul x Juicy x Lord

Juicy J, Lord Infamous and DJ Paul after Mystic Stylez was recorded. The three formed their own group known as Tear Da Club Up Thugz and released their debut album, CrazyNDaLazDayz in 1999.

“Lord was tight as hell, cool, [he was] like family. He could just pop up in my house anytime he want to and not even knock on the door, that’s how our relationship was. Back when I was with Three 6 I always been cool. Me and Lord, we never had a fall out. When me and Paul and them weren’t talking, he never let it mess up our relationship. We was always cool. Even when Paul was upset with Lord about something back in the day, Lord used to be at my house. And really everybody’s. Boo and Lord–they were like my favorites [out of Three 6 Mafia]. They were closest to me.” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

“[Lord Infamous] was the funniest dude in the world. He’s a great personality, a cool cat, nice, sweet, everything. We lost a piece of our soul when we lost Lord. Eventhough the group wasn’t together [recently] like it was, me and Lord kept a friendship. I was on his last solo project. He was on my last solo project so we kind of stayed in contact no matter what anyways. Lord is just a funny, good person.” – La Chat

Bone Thugs 450

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony standing tough in California, where they spent a lot of time after signing with Eazy-E and Ruthless Records in 1993

Who: (From left to right) Wish Bone, Flesh-n-Bone, Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone

When: 1995

Where: La Mirage, California

In Retrospect (On “Live By Yo Rep (B.O.N.E. Diss)/style wars): “I remember we all got together at, I forgot the name of the studio, all I remember was the subject and the content. We thought B.O.N.E. took our style. We was some little young knuckleheads and we wanted to diss them. We also wanted to be as dark and wicked and mysterious as possible so we played into a lot of, lot of devil shit. [Mystic Stylez] was a horrocore album.” – Gangsta Boo

“My perception [of the B.O.N.E. beef] was that they stole Memphis tongue-twisting style and we had to get ‘em. And not just Three 6 but the whole city, basically. There were more rappers that bone thugs-n-harmony took from too. It was kind of like the thing to do [laughs]. They stole our style, we finna cook you! Memphis knew who B.O.N.E. was, don’t get it twisted. I think after a while we did a show here in Memphis and they were the headliners and we were opening up for B.O.N.E. or something like that and fools got pushed and a skirmish broke out a little bit [laughs]. It was fun times. It wasn’t no guns or anything like that. It was just a fun time.” – M.C. Mack

“This what it was. It wasn’t a beef ‘cause I always liked B.O.N.E. Me and Paul already rap a different way and it’s going to be different from everybody in Memphis. A lot of rappers get boring to me so I did Devil’s Playground and I used a lot of samples from movies and rock and roll and had the bass, which was first introduced on the album. It was the hottest mixtape out in all of Memphis and we used to put out CDs in stores and [Eazy-E] and them–we was the hottest rappers out–and it was a Koopsta Knicca/bone thugs-n-harmony show. So, we did the show and it wasn’t about the rapping. And they performed and they said, ‘We’re not getting off stage until we get paid.’ So we approached them and there was a little scuffle. We was young, other folks took it and made beef with it. I never lie because I was an Eazy-E fan. I was excited. They took my show and ran with it [laughs].

“The people who were saying [that the B.O.N.E. beef started because of stolen styles] weren’t even there man. But people took it and ran with it and we were like, ‘Alright, whatever.’ And we ran with it ‘cause we were young. They say something, we go with it. It was stage time and it was just me and Paul there. Juicy was DJing for the show but there wasn’t no other rappers there. I don’t like the beef ‘cause I feel like no one can mess with me anyway.” – Koopsta Knicca

“Everybody say that the beef was because they sounding like us. That was one part but the real part of it was, my whole thing was we was like the Bone Family. I wasn’t in the Bone Family. I was in a group called the Junior Bone. That’s what people fail to realize. There was a Bone Family in Memphis way before B.O.N.E. They stole our music style but my thing was they stole the name Bone. That was Memphis back in the day like I can recall like [since] 1985. The Bone Family was a neighborhood gang-type thing in Smokey City, which is a neighborhood in Memphis. If you stayed in that area you was either going to be in the Bone Family or the Junior Bone or you going to get your ass kicked. Back then they was woopin’ niggas with Cadillac belt buckles. If you came from another school and you transferred to [a school in Smokey City] and you had to walk home and you wasn’t in the Bone Family or Junior Bone, you would get a beat down. That’s how I thought it started and then we started dissing B.O.N.E.” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

Group 3

Members from Killa Klan Kaze, Prophet Posse and Three 6 Mafia uniting in the studio

Who: (From left to right) DJ Paul, Lord Infamous, Gangsta Boo, M-Child, K-Rock, Juicy J, Scan Man, Project Pat

When: 1995

Where: Hypnotize Minds Studio

In Retrospect: “We was in a little room coming up with that sound and everyone using it now whether they know it or not. The songs based with hi-hats, kicks, we was bringing that to the world because [at the time] it was like OutKast, Goodie Mob. Texas always had Texas sound. They kind of had music, the beats, the bass like we had, Miami had they sound and Master P and them had they sound. We had that trunk, crunk. Bass controls everything.

“We would go do a few songs then we would get our cars, get our Chevy’s cleaned, go to Paul’s, come back and do another song. [Then we would] go run trains on women, smoke out, get a line or two and do another song [laughs]. That’s basically how we did Mystic Stylez.” – Koopsta Knicca

“One of the funniest parts about recording that album was recording the album with Archie Love. He was from an old ‘70s group from Memphis and when I would be sitting at the piano playing the music I would be hitting some dark notes and making it clash on purpose and he would always trip on that. He would be like, ‘Man, that’s out of key guys.’ And I would be like, ‘No, we want it to sound like that.’ He was like, ‘You want it to sound out of key?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it makes it sound dark and scary.’ He’s like, ‘Ah, whatever,’ [laughs]. That was Mystic Stylez and that’s how that shit blew up and when it did he was like, ‘Man, I’m proud of you guys.’ At first he didn’t know what the fuck was going on.” – DJ Paul

“I wrote [“Big Business”]. I wrote the whole entire verse for Paul. [I was] like 14/15-years old with my mom [in our] two-bedroom apartment reading witchcraft books because I thought I was this evil, wicked devil princess and I got kicked out of the house for that too [laughs].” – Gangsta Boo

“I remember we used to get into a couple shootouts and then go write in the studio [laughs]. It was at a time when Memphis was fun. Memphis had everything. Everybody was good at rapping. You actually rapped about what you did because at that time rappers couldn’t just come out and say you was ‘hard’ or [a] ‘killa’ because people would actually try you back then. You had to be about something. If you were popping somebody, locking them in the trunk you had to be about it because if you wasn’t people would call you out.” – Koopsta Knicca

The End Cover

Five out of the six members in what would be the full picture eventually used on the cover of Three 6 Mafia’s sophomore album, The End.

Who: (From left to right) Koopsta Knicca, Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black (front), Juicy J, DJ Paul

When: 1995

Where: Mall of Memphis

In Retrospect: “A lot of people were scared of it. We went from Triple 6 Mafia to Three 6 Mafia. I don’t know what contributions it made to hip-hop but for horrocore, we were one of the first, well the first rap/rock group back in that era so a lot of white people that was dark and gothic because now you see a lot of black cult kids or are into the culture of tattoos and piercings and skating and stuff like that. That was mostly for the white suburban kids or white weirdoes per se back in the day. It was dope just being one of the first rap groups during that time, we made Mystic Stylez to have such a strong, weird following.” – Gangsta Boo

“I used to rap a certain way. People be like, ‘You got to rap hard or do this…’ And I was like, ‘Ok.’ But when I did Devil’s Playground, I rapped totally differently. The way everyone rap in Memphis is cool but I got a style to it and I showed them the other style I have. I told [Paul] let’s make some rock and roll and put some Memphis bass in it. After that we did Mystic Stylez and it sold 250,000 units I think. Everyone living there was like, ‘Man they don’t get no radio play, no videos. How they selling so much?’ Everyone in Memphis had their own different style. That’s what made it Mystic Stylez. It was dark and we was dumb but having fun. We had a sound people wanted to accept but didn’t want to accept. They was like, ‘Aw, they worshiping the devil.’ They was scared but we still played good music. We just kept dropping and dropping and dropping. They didn’t know what we was doing.” – Koopsta Knicca

“Memphis rappers, we always talk about Memphis street life. We always talk about the truth. There’s not no other rapper that come out of Memphis that’s not being they self. And that’s what makes us so different. One thing about it, we got Yo Gotti, he being himself. Juicy J, he being himself. DJ Paul, he being himself. Young Dolph, he being himself. You got Gangsta Boo, she being herself. You got me, I’m being myself. That’s pretty much what it is. We doing all street Memphis life shit and we give it to you the way we see. We don’t pretend. We rap about what we see and live everyday.” – La Chat

“I give the horrocore, Mystic Stylez [element] to DJ Paul. I used to go to DJ Paul house. He had so many serial killer books laying around the room. That’s all he used to do was sit back and read that. In his music he used to sample so many scary movies. And that’s Paul. Paul brought the horrocore to Memphis. Even Paul handwriting look fucking horrocore. I always used to get on him about that.” – Kingpin Skinny Pimp

Mystic Stylez might be one of the [most influential horrocore hip-hop albums] because of so much that came from it. It went from the underground to creating an Oscar winner. That don’t happen in music at all especially in horrocore. It’s just amazing.” – DJ Paul

Editor’s Note: Crunchy Black was unavailable for comment due to a current prison stay. Playa Fly’s team declined comment about the album.

Photos via DJ Paul’s Instagram, Koopsta Knicca’s Instagram, Lord Infamous’ Instagram, Chi Modu’s Instagram

Related: Interview: Krayzie Bone Says a Final bone thugs-n-harmony Album is on the Horizon, Recalls Three 6 Mafia Beef | Video: When Three 6 Mafia & UGK Recorded “Sippin’ on Some Syrup”

Previously: NahRight x UpNorthTrips Present: Memory Lane, a Digital Museum of Mobb Deep’s The Infamous | Interview: Krayzie Bone Says a Final bone thugs-n-harmony Album is on the Horizon, Recalls Three 6 Mafia Beef | Interview: John Buccigross is ESPN’s Biggest Hip-Hop Nerd | Interview: Prodigy & Boogz Boogetz’ Young Rollin’ Stoners Album showcases two Generations of Queens Hip-Hop | Interview: Theophilus London “Vibes” with Kanye West & Leon Ware for Sophomore LP | Made in Ohio: Stalley & Rashad on Ohio Culture and Music | Happy 75th Birthday Queensbridge: The 75 Greatest QB Rap Songs

Check out all Memory Lane features HERE.

Catch up on all NahRight interviews and features HERE.

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