Music » Livewire

Three 6 Mafia

With Project Pat. Saturday, February 2, at the Agora.


One thing that has remained constant in the finicky world of hip-hop is the fact that sex, drugs, and controversy sell more records than lyrics, beats, and originality. The most puerile pioneers of this trend may very well be Three 6 Mafia, which built its foundation on controversy, then rounded out its sound with a hearty mix of sex and drugs.

Three 6 first garnered a buzz in the mid-'90s for spitting what some believed to be demonic lyrics. It also had a public beef with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, which caused it to lose a lot of fans in the 216. Then, in 1998, Three 6 really got busy. Having successfully created enough controversy to get them started, the members worked toward completing the formula. The oversexed Gangsta Boo emerged as one of the most sought-after female MCs in the game, and Three 6 Mafia as a group (rounded out by DJ Paul, Juicy J, Crunchy Black, and comrade Project Pat) released "Who Run It" (which is still a club banger). After this, the 1999 single "Sippin' on Syrup" blew up, bringing the group MTV exposure to complement its rising street credibility. The video featured bikini-clad models sipping "syrup" (a sometimes deadly mixture of cough syrup and liquefied narcotics) -- out of baby bottles. As a result, Three 6 Mafia quickly became a household name.

Now, although these Memphis players boast enough misogyny, drug use, and violence to make the late Eazy E blush, they aren't the dopest MCs around; nor are they the most attractive. Still, you have to respect their game. They have record sales, street credibility, and a recent movie release, Choices, to quiet their critics, if not their conscience.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.