Perplexed. That one word sums up this writer’s feelings every time a new Three 6 Mafia album is released. It’s when you’re perplexed and unable think decisively about something and/or come to a conclusion. It’s not that the success of Three 6 Mafia has me perplexed. Far more ignorant rappers with far more ignorant lyrics have had successful careers, although Three 6 is definitely somewhere around the bottom of the list. Their three biggest hits to date are as follows: “Tear Da Club Up,” an ode to intentionally causing violence; “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” an ode to getting fucked up on cold medicine; and “Ridin’ Spinners,” an ode to buying expensive custom accessories for your car’s wheels. To say the Three 6 Mafia are profound would be to say that George W. Bush is a deeply thoughtful and philosophical man. And yet that’s precisely what’s so perplexing about Three 6 Mafia – like Nice & Smooth they keep coming back with more and more hits. The credit for this clearly has to be placed on the beats, because whether you like them or hate them you have to admit DJ Paul and Juicy J come up with some of the crunkest shit in hip-hop. If you completely ignore the fact 80% of their lyrics are ignorant as hell and the other 20% are repetitive as fuck, the music wins you over. It’s some trunk-rattling, head-nodding, Cerwin Vega cone melting shit – no doubt about it.
To be honest I didn’t give a damn that Three 6 Mafia made a movie the last time they released a “Choices” album. I have to draw the line somewhere – I can listen to ignorant shit with good beats all day but I can’t watch people BE ignorant for two hours straight in a boring-ass film. While it may be true that the production values have improved over the years since the horrid underground cult classic “Big Ballers,” it doesn’t mean the acting abilities or the script-cohesiveness has one bit. Even a movie that looks as slick as “Belly” can still be stank as hell to watch, ya dig? Not everybody can be Ice Cube or Will Smith, and some rappers just need to check their egoes at the curb and not think four minutes in a music video can equal two hours on a big screen. So to hell with the DVD back then, and to hell with the one that comes with “Choices II – The Setup” now. While they’re at least giving it away free with the CD this time (or maybe the other way around if you really like these crappy films) there’s no way I’m watching it. The only thing this writer is interested in is the music; maybe later I can convince somebody else on the RapReviews staff to check the movie out and write it up, but I doubt it.
In the fine tradition of being straight up ig’nant, the first single off of “Choices II” has the straight up stupid title “Who I Is.” Don’t get it twisted, this is not a criticism of ebonics as a whole, but some things should just never come out of a person’s mouth. No matter what gender color or ethnicity you are, you should be slapped if you utter the phrase “who I is” in a sentence. Let’s give the self-confessed 666 devils their due though, this is yet another in the crunk-as-hell tradition of Mafia hits. A low pulsing and grinding bass winds through the background, while an appropriately simplistic and hypnotic melody rides over the top. The song features guest appearances from Lil Wyte and Trillville, who you may or may not know from their “I Sho Will” and “Some Cut” hits respectively. Lil Wyte is by far the most entertaining of the bunch, just for the perverse fact he brags about being the only white boy hard enough to roll with Three 6:
“I know by now someone told you about the cracker in Memphis
Three 6 picked up two years ago, the shit was strictly big business
I went through plenty of G’s, took some vacations and mo’
Got a lot more comin in and plus man right now I’m up in New York
That mean this shit is gettin dropped, these boys are up on they clocks
Recording miracles everyday that soon everyone will rock
You shoulda seen this shit comin, you’re ‘sposed to be some kind of wiz
Memphis, Tennesee and ATL, I’ll tell y’all tricks who he is”
That’s as good as it gets. Listenable songs include the opener “Who Da Fuck You Playin’ Wit,” the uncreatively titled “P.I.M.P.” (sorry to say 50 Cent beat you to it a while ago), “It’s Whateva Wit Us” featuring the Ying Yang Twins, the obligatory sex ode “Squeeze It,” the slow-rolling “Shoot Up Da Club” (tearing it up just isn’t good enough any more), and a few tracks you might have heard already from other sources like “One Hitta Quitta” and the bonus cut “I Show Will (Remix)” from the aforementioned Lil Wyte. Don’t expect much in terms of breath control or verbal wordplay – these Memphis rappers aren’t showing what little of it they do have. Musically the Mafia is still rolling, but they don’t seem to hit on all four-cylinders this time. “Choices II” is nearly 70 minutes of material to listen to including skits, and believe me when I say the skits are forgettable and unfunny as hell (yet another reason I’m not convinced to watch the movie). It seems like they saved the best of their beats for “Da Unbreakables” and the joints they produce for other rappers. You can still enjoy “Choices II” on a certain level but if the beats slip from this point on even their most ardent fans won’t be able to ignore how dumb-diggy-dumb-diggy-diggy-dumb-dumb their raps IS.