Three 6 Mafia

Making a bid for the old/new South, Memphis's Three 6 Mafia shockingly tones down its shout-heavy choruses and plays everything else the Southern sound was and will be: bounce beats, fresh-to-def stutter drums, lilting and jazzy (pha) soul hooks, string-driven MIDI presets and -- best of all -- hopscotch nursery-rhyme flows. No longer gothic/gangsta-scary, the tracks are compellingly celebratory. The standout "Side 2 Side," Three 6 asserts, is "a dance song for all my niggas in the club who don't dance." Blatant lifts from Carl Stalling's palette call to animated skeletons. The subject matter covers minute variations on themes of hardness, wealth, degrees of voluntary mental incapacitation and increasingly lurid requests for fellatio. You might find it despicably tepid by daylight, but go home with your crew wasted from closing out a club, tear into some fried chicken, and it'll be ungodly funny. Save the screwed-and-chopped version for when you can barely work the stereo, and it'll sound even better.


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