Live: At Westway, Three 6 Mafia Turn a Former Strip Club Into a Fight Club


Three 6 Mafia
Thursday, September 6

Better than: Waiting in line outside of Supreme.

There was a problem. Three 6 Mafia couldn’t get to the stage; 50 people blocked their way, a fire hazard if there ever was one. A man got on the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, please clear a path. Please cooperate, or else there won’t be a show.” No one moved; no one could. Fifteen minutes passed; everything felt hot. Oxygen hid. A guy standing across the stage muttered, “They should just plow through. This is so wack and not punk rock.” Four feet away, a girl yelled back in agreement. Ten minutes later, there was progress. Now only one man—wearing a Yankees hat—stood in the way, unable to find standing room while already standing in the room. The host got back on the microphone: “You’re fucking the show up for everybody, and most importantly, you’re fucking it up for Supreme. If you respect the brand, respect the instructions.” A fight broke out; the Yankee got pushed far enough so that Three 6 Mafia could now squeeze by. Right on time, 30 minutes late, the show started.

In 2005, Three 6 Mafia—the journeymen of Memphis, the expletive-spewing grosshounds—were at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts, No. 3 on the Billboard 200; they performed at the Academy Awards, winning an Oscar for their work on Hustle & Flow. This was followed by an MTV reality show in 2007—Adventures in Hollyhood—which had them mixing with the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Hugh Hefner, and Kristin Cavallari, while trying to maintain their Beale Street cred. It was canceled after eight episodes. In 2008, they threw a listening party in midtown Manhattan for their album Last 2 Walk. It was intimate: six people showed up.

Luckily, Hollywood loves a story of second chances. Over the course of three years and six mixtapes, Juicy J has single-handedly revived the brand, his collaborations with Lex Luger the stuff of legend. Thirty-seven years old, and he has never been more popular than he is now among the college set, his dystopian visions of getting fucked up at all hours translatable to kids who see no future. As a result, Juicy is crossing over once again: “We Trippy Mane” shirts have become the new Snowman tees; he signed to Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang in December; “Bands a Make Her Dance” is burning up the strip clubs like Chlamydia. DJ Paul, for his part, put out a song this year called “I’m Cocky,” so . . . he’s working, too. (It seems like Paul is well aware of where he stands: Last night, he was relegated to hypeman status, his first verse coming four songs in.)

Onstage and in real life, Juicy is the animated one, jumping into the crowd for “Juicy J Can’t.” His performance style is much like Will Ferrell’s naked run in Old School: a limp-kneed weeble-wobble. (Paul just looks as if he’s ready to fight at all times, his lower teeth bared and shoulders forward.) They don’t really engage one another in concert—the most potent chemistry onstage was that which had already been ingested—but for 45 minutes, the two careened through their hits, a choo-choo train charging steady at 114 BPM, each bigger than the last. Every so often, Juicy would ask, “Who’s high?” and the answer was obvious, a mass standing before him with eyes too low and smiles too big. They did “Where’s da Bud?” from 1997 and a bunch of songs from 2012; they sounded exactly the same, which is to say perfect. In introducing “I’m So High,” DJ Paul rapped, “I’m so hot.” Sweat poured down Juicy’s face, a palpable drip falling onto the bubble vest he wouldn’t take off for some reason. The three dancers onstage—lugging butt by the assload—glistened. Armed with a bandanna, Paul asked for someone to turn on the “motherfucking AC.” A huge cheer went up. Paul stuck out his tongue and spread his arms, as if expecting to taste snow.

Through it all, it was an incredible night of stomps, chants, and elbow-throwing classics, with no song getting a bigger reaction than “Stay Fly.” The room tilted on its axis, the center of gravity thrown completely off kilter. Immediately after, Juicy asked what people wanted to hear for the final song. A garbled cacophony turned into a sharpened chant of “Don’t Save Her! Don’t Save Her!” its call coming from all corners of the room. Paul looked uncomfortable; Juicy turned around, facing the DJ. He said, “I don’t know what we have back there.” So, they played “Weak Azz Bitch” again—a strange choice—but no one complained.

Critical bias: I sweat through two shirts, standing still.

Overheard: “How many of y’all sick of pussy-ass rap? If you think pussy-ass rap is fucking gay, say ‘Hell yeah! I’m sick of this mothafuckin’ shit!'”—DJ Paul, introducing his one solo song of the night, “(I Don’t Fuck With No) Pussy-Ass Shit.” It got the weakest reaction of the set, along with Wiz Khalifa’s “The Code.” Lyrics for Paul’s song, though, include something along the lines of “No fucking gay-ass shit/No fucking pussy-ass shit,” and “No fag n—as” repeated. Notably, Juicy didn’t sing along, either out of tolerance or because he didn’t know it. (This transcription might not be 100 percent accurate—my fingers were dripping sweat, and my iPhone auto-correct proved an eager opponent.)

Random notebook dump: Waiting really was unbearable; many didn’t make it. Pharrell and Aziz Ansari stood in the front room, each leaving before the show ever started; Jonah Hill did the Tony Yayo dance to a Roscoe Dash song before bowing out, as well. A girl, trapped by the stage, screamed, “I want to go home!” Her friend asked her for weed; no response as she looked toward the door, helpless. Moments later, Juicy and Paul started their show.

Set list:
Talkin Bout (Bombay Gin Dance)
Zip and a Double Cup
Slob On My Knob
Dope Boy Fresh
Where Is the Bud?
Tear Da Club Up
Hit a Muthafucka
Roll With It
Weak Azz Bitch
Get Higher
Who Da Neighbors?
Get the Fuck Out My Face
Haters Get Tossed
I’m So High
Bands a Make Her Dance
I Don’t Fuck With No Pussy Ass Shit
Countin Faces
Sippin’ On Some Sizzurp
Poppin’ My Collar
The Code
Fuck Dat Shit
Geeked Up Off Them Bars
Juicy J Can’t
Stay Fly
Weak Azz Bitch (Reprise)