From being a founding member of Three 6 Mafia to a part owner of FaZe Clan, Paul Duane Beauregard b/k/a DJ Paul has showed a knack for having his finger on pop culture’s pulse his entire life. That’s not to say it has always worked to his benefit — in fact FaZe Clan has seen more hard times than Dusty Rhodes lately — but if Beauregard is as savvy as I think he is he probably divested his ownership without telling anyone. My point is if he decided to declare 2016 the “Y.O.T.S. (Year of the Six)” I had to think he had a good reason. How many rapper/producers do you know who have an Academy Award on their mantle? Paul does. The man knows what he’s doing.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Paul dropped the single “Torture Chamber” featuring his late half-brother Lord Infamous. Family is a big deal to Paul and I know his brother’s passing in 2013 had to be a huge blow. It gets even deeper than that though. In the intro to “None Like Mine” he actually blames himself for the passing of both Infamous and Koopsta Knicca. He thinks that reuniting all of his Mafia family under the new banner of Da Mafia 6ix might have been “too much excitement” for either man to handle. He then debates whether or not the “book is already written” on our lives, a degree of deep philosophy you probably didn’t expect from a guy known for tearing clubs up.
“Everything they doing, we done already did it.” True indeed God. That’s why when you talk about the history of rap music in general, Southern rap specifically, and Memphis very specifically, you gotta put some respect on DJ Paul’s name. I write about “Y.O.T.S. (Year of the Six), Pt. 1” coming from that place of respect and I want to make sure everybody knows that. I appreciate his willingness to reinvent himself and experiment with styles and sounds. His “Slumerican Three 6” duet with Yelawolf is probably the most country rap song I’ve ever heard a member of the extended Mafia family do, and I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
With all this respect I have for Paul, and admiration for how hard songs like “Wake Up” featuring Project Pat go, I must confess that a lot of this album reflects an undeniable truth — Paul never had a better tag team partner than Juicy J nor vice versa. Life has taken both men in different directions but when Three 6 Mafia was at the peak of their prowess it was the contributions of both men that made it a success. It’s not surprising that they came back together a few years after “Y.O.T.S. (Year of the Six), Pt. 1” and “Pt. 2” dropped, touring together and even teasing the possibility of a new album, although the global pandemic seems to have put both on pause. Songs like “S.T.F.U.” and “High Maintenance” are aight, but they feel like Paul going through the motions without somebody to bounce his music and lyrics off of for inspiration.
Is it any wonder then that when Juicy J shows up for the “Stomp Him Out” remix that it’s immediately a highlight of the album? This is classic Three 6 shit — rowdy as hell and the kind of energy the album needed just a bit more of.
By no means is “Y.O.T.S. (Year of the Six), Pt. 1” a bad album. DJ Paul is perhaps a victim of his own success though in that my expectations for the kind of music I know he’s capable of are much higher than what’s found here. Those expectations are not that he drop the greatest lyrics ever written mind you — just that he produces high octane raps and gives his performances their all. I’m sure 2016 was the Year of the Six for a variety of reasons, but it wasn’t for this album alone.