The influence and impact of legendary Memphis hip hop group, Three 6 Mafia, cannot be overstated. Especially over the past decade, the group’s flow, production style and aesthetic has permeated its way through hip hop culture, touching artists from Drake and Future, to Migos and A$AP Rocky.
It all started in the late ‘80s, when all future members of Three 6 Mafia were beginning to work on the craft that would propel them to global superstardom. DJ Paul, who could already play piano and drums, started taking piano lessons; Lord Infamous was practicing bass and electric guitar; while Juicy J was learning how to rap and DJ.
In 1989, DJ Paul and Lord Infamous, who were related, formed a duo and called themselves Da Serial Killaz, and started distributing their own mixtapes at school. Within a few years, DJ Paul had built up a name for himself in the Memphis rap scene, where he DJed and performed at local clubs, like Club 380 Beale. Lord Infamous was still refining his craft, while up in North Memphis Juicy J started to build up his talents as well.
DJ Paul and Juicy J eventually connected after the latter sought out the former to help with production. After discovering that their musical styles meshed well, the two artists linked up with Lord Infamous to form The Backyard Posse, while keeping Da Serial Killaz as a separate group.
“It started off as me, Juicy and Lord was the creators of the whole thing,” DJ Paul recalled in an interview with HipHopDX. “Me and Juicy was making the beats and writing songs and Lord was making songs, and writing songs and, he didn’t really make beats, but he knew how to play the guitar and he knew how to play baselines and so Lord Infamous came up with the baselines on ‘Where’s The Bud’ and then I made the music around it – the piano, the drums and all that, so he was a big part of the group and that’s what made us the Tear The Club Up Thugz side project, ’cause it was mostly us three that was creating and putting stuff together.”
The name Three 6 Mafia wouldn’t come up until 1993 when Lord Infamous rapped a line that called the group the “Triple Six Mafia,” which was quickly adopted by the other members.
DJ Paul: But how it became Triple 6 Mafia was because Lord Infamous had said that in a rap, and he said the Triple 6 Mafia, calling our crew a Triple 6 Mafia, but that wasn’t out name. He was just calling us that, and then I liked it and then I started sampling it, ‘Triple 6 Mafia, Mafia’ and then we just started calling ourselves Triple 6 Mafia, so Lord kind of made up the name of the group. He kind of made up that name and that became the name of the group.DJ Paul Reflects On Lord Infamous’ Career & Founding Three 6 Mafia | HipHopDX