Da Mafia 6ix
with Sozay, Whitney Peyton, Twisted Insane, and Compton Menace
Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul
Monday, March 31, 2014
Da Mafia 6ix, the current identity of Three 6 Mafia sans Juicy J and the late Lord Infamous, made the St. Paul appearance of their current 60-day tour mere days after Juicy J's recent stop. DJ Paul, Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, and, yes, Lord Infamous' supposed corpse, all hit the stage for a long set that left quite an impact.
The night's massive line-up seemed like it might have gotten tiresome in spite of the potential talent, but the openers that came along on busses seemed to capture the growing crowd's attention. Each act had a knack for the kinds of stage presence techniques that can change the room's entire dynamics, but they also mostly insisted on using backing tracks for their songs. Sozay stood alone as someone who rapped without computerized assistance, instead leaning on a pair of hype men, and his in-your-face style had a tinge of the aggressiveness of Headshots-era underground, balanced with bouncy backing beats.
"The Queen of the 215," Philidelphia's own Whitney Peyton, was a prime example of why the backing track phenomena can especially hurt a performance: She could really rap, but there were few sparse moments where this was evident over the conflicting tracking. Same goes for the otherwise impressive Twisted Insane, whose chop-raps rival those of a Tech N9ne or a Busta Rhymes but were often buried underneath another layer of pre-canned vocals. Mind-blowingly fast at times, Twisted Insane grabbed my attention strictly from styling, which frankly is a rare bird these days.
Peyton and Twisted Insane both won over the audience though thanks in part to well choreographed antics, like the former rapping her final song entirely through while standing on top of the pit, or the latter donning goat skull masks or rapping in the midst of the lighter-waving crowd for a song about overdosing. Compton Menace played mostly middle of the road, owning the stage strictly with straight rapping that fused a West Coast sensibility with a modern sense of club music. It was a diverse set of openers and all interesting choices on Da Mafia 6ix's part.
By the time the headliners hit the stage, it was clear that even though this was a Monday and even though this was St. Paul and even though the show needed to end by exactly 11 p.m., they were going to tear the club up. The fairly full audience suddenly leapt a few notches as the hit parade began in full. At some point in the night, Gangsta Boo bragged about how they've got too many hits, and it was true; it's easy to forget just how huge all these songs were and how defining they've become for Southern rap's shaping of hip-hop's national consciousness. Every song was gigantic in scope and utterly infectious.
Drugs, murders, fellatio, cars, further drugs, and taking the general attitude of not giving a fuck were the song topics and the crew pummeled them into the ground with a beautiful blunt force that refused to relent for the entirety of the atypically long set. It's not easy to maintain, much less increase, the audiences energy over a span of time like that, but Da Mafia 6ix had the raw power and the excellent material to make it happen. Hard, hedonistic, and unapologetic, the set was incredibly fun from front to back.
The set introduction, played like a movie with hammy announcing and rain sound effects, set the stage for the night's better usage of overdramatic heavy-handedness: The surreal tribute to Lord Infamous, who died a few months ago from a heart attack and whose casket was now being transported to every show on the tour. The group have traded in schlocky morbidity since day one, essentially inventing the sub-genre "horrorcore" by occasionally exaggerating rap's violent notions into full-on Tales From The Crypt territory, and I'm sure this is what Infamous would have wanted.
By the time the openers returned to the stage alongside select female audience members, the richter scale of the room had peaked. There's really not a low point in the set, unless you count the moment DJ Paul decided to chant "Titties" for minutes on end until a fan onstage eventually lifted her shirt. The individual performances stuck out, especially Gangsta Boo's relentless punch-you-in-the-face stylistics, but what really brought everything together and encouraged audience insanity was the group dynamics. These are Oscar winners and chart-toppers in their third decade in the game, and they ran through an unparalleled string of songs that can largely be considered classics of the genre.
The party seemed only slightly tempered in comparison to the bacchanalia that was Juicy J's recent Myth performance, which I chock up entirely to the particular circumstances of the shows. Da Mafia 6ix got the smaller but no less enthusiastic crowd sufficiently crunk. Long after the Memphis crew made their permanent imprint on the rap industry, they proved last night that they have always been ahead of their time yet remain uniquely vital.
Personal Bias: I arrived somewhat late to the all-ages show and wound up missing the local openers Wikkid Weapon, Myles Malice and the Mad Scientist, Austin, Fearless, Genre Treason, Mouthe of the Dirt, Man 1 Axe, and Open Minded. I am getting over a cold and was turnt down myself, but the bulk of the audience never seemed to be.
The Crowd: Pretty decent size and fairly turnt up for a Monday night.
Overheard The Crowd: "Juicy J was a bunch of girls, here it's a bunch of guys!"
Break Da Law
Doe Boy Fresh
Slob On My Knob
Who Run It
I'm So High
Side 2 Side
Fuck Ya'll Hoes
Weak Azz Bitch
Half On A Sack
Azz & Tittiez
Tear Da Club Up
Fuck That Shit
Late Night Tip
Where Is The Bud
Lil' Freak (Ugh Ugh Ugh)
I Wanna Get Drunk
Been Had Hard
Sippin On Some Syrup
Poppin My Collar
Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body)
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