Opportunity is a finicky and unpredictable event, so one has to always be ready to strike when their moment arises. This occurred for Three 6 Mafia in 2005 when their break-out single “Stay Fly” dominated the airwaves and their song “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” garnered them an Oscar for Best Original Song. With all eyes on the group, what do they decide to do? Forgetting they won the Oscar for best song and not actor, DJ Paul & Juicy J headed west to Hollywood to pursue movie “opportunities.” The result was their short-lived reality show Adventures In Hollyhood. 2 Â½ years later they finally return back to what opened the doors â€“ the music, with the release of their oft-delayed album Last 2 Walk. Sadly the only redeeming value this album has is as a warning to those who fail the strike when the iron is hot.
Other than the group’s continually dwindling roster, the first thing you notice is the sound of the album. The dark, lush, and soul sampled sound beds of their earlier works have been replaced with keyboard driven beats that sound more like attempts at classic rock anthems or mainstream pop hits at, than rap song songs. “I Got,” featuring Pimp C, lazily samples Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400,” where outside of an added drum line and 808 kicks, nothing is done to the original sample. Conversely, on “Hood Star” featuring Lyfe Jennings, they manage to squeeze almost all the life out of Willie Hutch’s “Color My Sunshine,” by speeding up the melody like they did for their break out sing “Stay Fly.” It’s unfortunate because this is one of the few songs where Paul and Juicy step aside from their usual array of club anthems to address the trappings fame bring.
Songs like “Playstation” and “Weed, Blow, Pills” have such generic and unoriginal hooks that make it virtually impossible to take the songs seriously. To make matters worse, the hooks come before any verse and set the songs up for immediate failure. When you’re inundated with repeated chants of “Play with your Playstation” or “Weed â€“ Blow â€“ Pills” for 40 seconds before any actual verse begins, it’s almost like they’re daring you to skip to the next song. When the verses actually start, things don’t get any better as their rhyme schemes and lyrics rarely go above the “See Spot Run” complexity of 3rd grade. Like on “I’d Rather” when DJ Paul kicks things off with: “Riding down the street man/I’m in my big car/I scoped a little sexy little, mixed little broad/she made my dick stand like Kareem Adbul Jabbar/I hit the brakes so hard, that I dropped my cigarâ€¦” When DJ Unk drops a scene-stealing verse on your song, you know you’re doing something wrong.
Another problem when a project is delayed is that some songs are dropped and others which may have been original when first made, may face similar sounding songs when they actually see the light of day. “Dope Boy Fresh” was released over a year ago and had to be dropped. “Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body),” which became the new single, pales in comparison to Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop.” The same goes for “My Own Way” featuring Good Charlotte sounds very similar to Busta Rhymes’ “We Made It.” What may have been a good idea at the time, comes off more as a cheap imitation today.
It’s remarkable that Paul and Juicy have been able to keep Three 6 Mafia afloat despite all the turmoil that’s gone on within the Hypnotized Mind Camp throughout the years, but it appears they’re prone to relying on the strength of their production as unoriginal songs populate the majority of the album. They may be the Last 2 Walk, but each step they take brings them closer to the end of the plank. Another album like this and they might jump the ship, because this LP is the epitome of an opportunity squandered.
Last 2 Walk (Columbia Records) is in stores now & available online.
For more info, visit www.triplesix.com