Three 6 Mafia
Most Known Unknowns
Sony
2005
B-



for those of you wondering why Three 6 Mafia’s follow up to Da Unbreakables is called Most Known Unknowns, all your inquiries are cleared up right away on the intro track. “A lot of people question the title; they want to know what it means. The Most Known Unknowns means Three 6 Mafia is known, but at the same time unknown.” Oh.

There’s never been any other point in human history where the world was more ready for the Three 6 Mafia. Sure, that statement sounds completely ludicrous, but it’s also true. After all, the phrase “screwed and chopped” is headed for a “bling bling”-like ascendancy into the cultural lexicon, something that couldn’t be said even a year ago. Southern rap is more commercially viable than ever before, with loads of new artists (particularly those hailing from Houston) hitting the market and becoming wildly successful. Many of them began with only the most meager of fanbases, whereas Three 6 Mafia are already well-established. So, if they don’t break out now, it’s hard to imagine that they ever will.

“Stay Fly,” the excellent lead single, will certainly help, and the rest of Most Known Unknowns carries in the Three 6 tradition, with almost every song a potential hit. Three 6 Mafia doesn’t fool around with stupid phone conversation skits and they don’t pander to women with silly R&B; tracks—they just “Knock Tha Block Off Yo Ass.”

They’ve also stuck to the same lyrical approach that’s carried them throughout their career, which I would describe as such: endless repetitions of hardcore thuggery that, in another lifetime, I might have tattooed all over my body. “Ever since I can remember I’ve been poppin’ my collar” would go across my shoulder blades. “Half on a sack, want some blow?” would go on one of my biceps. “It ain’t no bitch in my blood, nigga, it’s nothin’ but thug” would cover the front of my torso. And so on.

Nothing I’ve noted necessarily holds the album back, but by now it should be clear that Most Known Unknowns is less of a musical revelation than a product of several career-long trends. There’s something to be said for this consistency when looking back over the group’s entire lifespan, but when a new album like Most Known Unknowns drops, it raises questions as to how new everything really is. If DJ Paul, Juicy J, and company become household names in the coming weeks, it truly will be because America has changed to suit them and not the other way around. If this approach ends up working, then perhaps Most Known Unknowns will be viewed as a shrewd move. For now, it’s merely business as usual.

Buy it at Insound!


Reviewed by: Ross McGowan
Reviewed on: 2005-10-05
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