36 Classic Hypnotize Minds Songs You Should Know

HYPNOTIZE-LEAD

Image via @GangstaBooQOM on Twitpic

By Brendan Frederick

Memphis rappers like Gangsta Pat and Eightball & MJG were just starting to get national attention when two local teens on opposite sides of town, Paul Beauregard (known as DJ Paul) and Jordan Houston (known as Juicy J) began making lo-fi 4-track mixtapes and selling them in school. Inspired by Memphis pioneer DJ Spanish Fly, they both started sprinkling original raps into their blend tapes, and soon their tapes found distribution at local car stereo shops alongside mixtapes by more established peers like DJ Squeeky and DJ Sound. Paul and Juicy became friends around 1993, and each DJ's group of regular rappers joined forces to create a loosely-defined crew called The Backyard Posse.

The two DJs started collaborating on mixtapes together, and soon the idea to record a proper group album under the name Triple Six Mafia (eventually Three 6 Mafia) took hold. The name, which referenced the satanic number 666, was created by Paul's brother Lord Infamous, who was the driving force behind the group's early horrorcore aesthetic. In addition to Paul, Juicy, and Infamous, the group's other core members—Koopsta Knicca, Gangsta Boo, and Crunchy Black—were all down by 1994, alongside a rotating cast of characters.

Three 6 Mafia's debut album Mystic Stylez garnered attention around the South and in the industry, thanks to the group's controversial image and regional hits like "Tear Da Club Up." By 1997, during the post-No Limit gold rush, their label Hypnotize Minds (originally known as Prophet Entertainment) had signed with a major and broken into the mainstream. Over the next decade, Three 6 would become an urban radio staple, and the Hypnotize label would release a variety of albums by Memphis affiliates, including Juicy J's brother Project Pat and white rapper Lil' Wyte. Along the way, they inspired Atlanta's burgeoning crunk genre, and influenced a generation of millennial stars like A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa to mix spooky, dissonant sounds with melodic gangsta rap.

Today, Juicy J is more famous than ever as he approaches 40 years old, collaborating with Katy Perry and inspiring Miley Cyrus with his strip club soundtracks. This is the improbable fifth act in his 20+ year career, but it's a little bittersweet for longtime Three 6 Mafia fans, who aren't used to seeing the Juice Man without DJ Paul by his side. Meanwhile, Paul seems to be going back to the roots, founding a new group called Da Mafia 6ix, featuring all of the group's core members except for Juicy J.

These two hip-hop icons have been through so much over the last two decades that it's hard to keep track of it all. Well, here's a good place to start. From early mixtape tracks to their official entry into the pop charts, Pigeons & Planes presents 36 Classic Hypnotize Minds Songs You Should Know.

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  • Devlin Brush

    Props for this post. I’ve been looking for something like this, since I’ve been listening to a lot of A$AP, Spaceghostpurrp and Juicy J, and I’ve been really interested in the history of this kind of sound.

  • keyz

    Great post, I personally have listened to every song that was listed. The beats and melodies that they had back then were remarkable, its jus sad they didn’t really get the recognition that they deserved.

  • RBS

    Great list, but I just wish it was a little longer (though I see what you did there). Some of the last few choices were a bit suspect though. Fuck I love Triple Six tho, thanks for this!

  • RaiseYourThumbsUp

    This is an incredible piece of commentary/reporting. I’m an 80′s baby born and raised in Memphis. The depth of this piece is rather breathtaking. There would not have been a “crunk” movement if it wasn’t for Hypnotize Minds and DJ Paul/Juicy J in particular. A lot of the credit ATL received for their hip hop scene blinded people to the fact that the music coming out of the A was mainly commercialized Memphis music. I believe the drug/gang references in most of 3-6′s music, let alone the demonic undertone, never allowed them to prevail on a major industry level like the Lil’ John’s of the world. This was a classic period in hip-hop though. I’m glad this piece was done.

  • PeteRockGreenbacks

    Dope, extensive post. Love it. As a fan of alot of alot of Raider Klan music, this is an enlightening read and listen.