The Kings of Crunk return to the New Daisy this Friday, with a performance that sees DJ Paul, Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black, and Koopsta Knicca taking the stage under the new name Da Mafia 6ix. But while they may have changed the name, this is a classic Three 6 Mafia line-up, with Juicy J being the only one missing in action. We caught up with DJ Paul to talk to about the yet-to-be-titled Da Mafia 6ix album that drops in June, the importance of analog recording, and paying respect to the legends of Memphis rap.
Flyer: Can you tell me more about the US tour Da Mafia 6ix is about to embark on? Are there any special guests, any surprise opening acts?
DJ Paul: We got some different opening acts. We've got a guy opening named Twisted Insane, and I think he's signed to Tech N9ne. Basically we're about to go on a 50-city tour in 55 days. Even the days we have off, I'm flying from the tour and DJ-ing and doing solo gigs at places.
Now that Da Mafia 6ix has reunited, do you have any plans to collaborate with other Memphis rappers from your past like Playa Fly or Gangsta Blac?
I tried to get with Gangsta Blac on Da Mafia 6ix mixtape that's out, but we were doing it through some different people, and it didn't get put together. It's possible that we will do something together. Me and [Kingpin] Skinny [Pimp] are going to do some stuff together and me and DJ Zirk are also going to do something together. I think me and [Yo] Gotti are also going to record some stuff.
How would you describe the album that's coming out in June in relation to the Three 6 Mafia classics like Mystic Stylez, Chapter II: World Domination, or Choices: The Album?
The new album is going to have that Three 6 Mafia feel to it, but if you notice the new mixtape we put out is more amped up, it's a little more hardcore. You know, if you listen to "Break Da Law '95" and listen to the new one, it's a lot more hyper. We put more of a harder and darker edge on the new stuff. It's the same feel, I'm using the same drum machine and keyboard from back in those days, but I updated it more. Back in the day, some of the hi-hats that I used were just regular. Basically it's the old classic stuff, but it's revamped and turned up.
Do you feel that the old days of recording on a 4-track straight to a cassette offered something unique compared to today when everything is recorded digitally?
I actually just bought a 4-track off of eBay. I had to go and get the dude. When I was doing the remastering of [DJ Paul Mixtape] "Volume 16," I still had all those cassette tapes and four track masters, and I still had my original four track. The recording session had three tapes and as soon as I put those tapes in, they played fine so I was like "we good." I mean, that thing has probably been sitting out for 18 years or something, but I always take really good care of my stuff. Over the years, my girls would always fuss at me and call me a packrat and a hoarder because I keep everything. I still have all my old toys from when I was a kid, I've kept everything, and now I'm making money off it. Not my old toys, but all my old recording stuff. I've kept all the old Three 6 Mafia pictures. I keep everything.
Anyway, back to the 4-track. I put the first couple of masters in the 4-track and they played great, so I was like all right, cool. Then I turned around and put a regular cassette tape that wasn't a 4-track tape. Thank god it wasn't a 4-track tape. The 4-track stuck and died on me right there, and we had to break the tape to get it up out of there. Thank god it wasn't a master; it was just some shitty little cassette tape.
I went around town and found some guys who said they worked on 4-tracks. But they told me it would take months to get around to fixing it and it was going to be like $100 just for them to look at it. They told me basically take it or leave it because people don't mess with cassette tapes these days. Then I went on eBay and I found a 4-track that was just like mine for $39, so I put a bid on it for $41.50 and then someone went and put 50 cents on the bid, so I went and put $10 on it to make it $52.50. I set my alarm to wake me up thirty minutes before the bid was up, and thank god I did because this dude had put another 50 cents on the bid, and was going to get this 4-track for an extra 50 cents. I said, "You motherfucker," put $100 on the bid, and said, "all right buddy, what do you wanna do?"
Once he reads this story he's going to be like, "That's the loser that took my 4-track!" I got the 4-track back and I've been using the hell out of it, man. I'm not going to record a whole song on it, but I have been using it to get all my old samples, and it was the best $153, plus shipping, I ever paid in my life.
I noticed the Joeski Love saxophone samples are still present on the "6ix Commandments" mixtape. What makes that sample so legendary?
Man, it's just that old classic Memphis sound. That's a sound that's just classic to Memphis, man. People love that sound.
Can we expect a film of any kind to go along with the new album?
Not to go along with the new album, but I did just get off the phone with another fellow Memphian, and we want to put together a film in Memphis. I can't say what it's about, but it's going to be killer.
What's your take on new artists like A$AP Rocky and SpaceGhostPurrp making numerous references to Three 6 Mafia, and at times even mimicking the production on the classic Three 6 Mafia albums?
Yeah I like that. I like A$AP Rocky, and SpaceGhostPurrp was on the album. I just talked to SpaceGhostPurrp yesterday. They grew up on it, and now they are paying their respect, just like I did.
Da Mafia 6ix at the New Daisy Theatre, Friday, February 28th, 7 p.m., $25.