Three 6 Mafia's influence in hip-hop runs deeper than some people may think. The Memphis group didn't just make classic songs that captured specific moments in the uprising of Dirty South rap—they also inspired generations to come with their signature Southern slick talk and wildly catchy beats. Not to mention "Hard Out Here For A Pimp," which won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Obviously major hits like "Poppin' My Collar" and "Stay Fly" will forever stand alone as classic records but the group's entire catalog—from Mystic Stylez to Watch What U Wish...—will survive through new artists using hip-hop's oldest method of appreciation: sampling.
Most recently, Tupelo, Miss. duo Rae Sremmurd sampled Three 6's "Side 2 Side" on their new song "Powerglide." The imminent hit is reinvigorated by Mike WiLL Made-It's rapid fire hi-hats but keeps the same iconic strings that made "Side 2 Side"—as DJ Paul says on the original track—the perfect "dance song for all thugs in the club that don't dance."
Some artists sample entire instrumentals, some artists sample just hooks while others sample as little as one bar. But not matter the size of the sample, that gritty, gangster groove of Three 6 Mafia is captured on every song.
There have been hundreds of instances where artists have sampled Three 6 Mafia in attempts to create their own unique moments in hip-hop history—some have obviously been better than others. XXL combed through the array of sampled songs and found 20 tracks that sample and tribute Three 6 in the best way possible.
Murs and Curtiss King's 2014 EP $hut Your Trap was not only modern boom-bap bliss with tenacious lyricism, it was also an opportunity to rehash one of Three 6 Mafia's most infectious hits. "Owner$hip" weaves Three 6's Last 2 Walk smash hit "I'd Rather" in a subtle-yet-effective way. The chanting Juicy J vocals are muffled enough to give Murs room to get his bars off but loud enough to keep the essence alive.
"Paper Bag Mask"$uicideboy$
The $uicideboy$ have been working closely with Juicy J for the past few years and it shows on "Paper Bag Mask." The New Orleans duo peel back the tempo on Three 6's 1999 deep cut "Talk Ya Ass Off" and revamp the production with their contemporary touch of emo/punk rap. This type of writing of course makes the $uicideboy$'s version more self-deprecating than Three 6's tough talk, but catchy nonetheless.
"Slob on my Knob" has become one of Three 6 Mafia's biggest and most coveted tracks. The song's lyrics, beat and overall vibe has been replicated time and time again in hip-hop songs. Recently, A$AP Ferg catches that same Juicy J flow on his recent hit "Plain Jane" and even anchors the chorus with the iconic, "Check in with me and do your job."
"Dope Dealer"ScHoolboy Q Featuring E-40
Three 6 Mafia was iconic for making ordinary keys and baselines sound incredibly haunting, especially on 1999's "Playa Hataz." Metro Boomin and Southside took those keys, chopped them, slowed them down and let ScHoolboy Q and E-40 breathe a new life into those chilling chords. "Dope Dealer" made it on to Q's Blank Face LP and provided a fresh dose of Memphis on Q's best project to date.
A$AP Rocky is one of Three 6 Mafia's biggest supporters—specifically Juicy J. His 2014 loosie "Multiply" not only has Juicy talking all over the track but also samples "Stay Fly." The Curtis Heron beat is fairly minimalist and doesn't sample the production of "Stay Fly"—instead, Rocky's airy hook copies the original almost verbatim, making for a true Three 6 renaissance cut.
"Still Sippin"Jay Critch Featuring Rich The Kid
Jay Critch and Rich The Kid's eccentric thug rap is clearly derivative of Three 6 Mafia—their 2017 song "Still Sippin" proves it. Producer TheLabCook sampled Three 6 and UGK's cult classic "Sippin On Some Sizzurp." By pitching the original vocals down and mixing in some muffled scratches, both millennial rappers get their bars off about that iconic purple drank.
"Pheel Tha Phonk 1990"SpaceGhostPurrp
SpaceGhostPurrp quickly became a lead innovator of the lo-fi muffle sound that still dominates underground rap. One of his most organic cuts samples Three 6's 1996 somber-sounding "Late Night Tip." Purrp distorts the keys and pitches the entire instrumental down to its lowest octave. He proceeds to keep the same dark street energy that made the original so shockingly captivating.
Plies took Three 6's "Late Night Tip" at face value, keeping a near identical instrumental. Cheeze Beatz and 30 Roc merely tightend the hi-hats and transitions, yet the framework remains identical. Instead of talking street life war stories, Plies serenades his loyal female companion. He finds a different pocket and rhythm than Three 6 but does the beat ultimate justice.
"Neighborhood Hoez"Freddie Gibbs Featuring 2 Chainz
In 2012, Freddie Gibbs grabbed 2 Chainz to recreate a modern version of Three 6's 1997 wind down hit, "Neighborhood Hoe." Speakerbomb cleaned up DJ Paul's original beat with sharp snares and drums while keeping that same Southern twang. Gibbs and Chainz also keep the same lustful sentiments that Three 6 put on wax 20 years ago.
"Bake Sale"Wiz Khalifa Featuring Travis Scott
Without really listening to the chord progression on "Bake Sale," it can be hard to hear the "Mafia Niggaz" sample. GSP, Crazy Mike and Southside disguise the soft, ascending keys from the 2000 original with rattling snares and hi-hats. Regardless, both Scott and Khalifa follow the rhythm of those keys and decorate it with their own Auto-Tuned stylings.
"Mad Man"A$AP Ferg Featuring Playboi Carti
Three 6 Mafia's "Tear Da Club Up" is a producer's delight. The chanting "tear da club up vocals" can be easily sampled and sprinkled into a wide variety of new instrumentals that need a boost of octane level energy. Da Honourable CNOTE crafted one of these exact bangers for A$AP Ferg and Playboi Carti with "Mad Man." Thanks to CNOTE's pulsing recreation and Ferg's subsequent shouts, this version might even go harder than the original.
"9 To Ya Dome 2"Yung Simmie
DJ Smokey made the perfect sample for Yung Simmie when he recycled, reused and reinvigorated Three 6's 1999 distorted threat chant "Nine To Yo Dome." Simmie's dark deep cut keeps the same menacing chorus but with some seriously elevated gospel hymns layered overtop.
Kari Faux and Black Party took one of the most obscure sounds Three 6 has ever used and turned it into her biggest hit. The high-pitched phone ring loop that Three 6 used on "2-Way Freak" was the centre of Kari's flossy, bossy "No Small Talk." To make it even better, her confidence and attitude mirror that of Three 6's to a tee.
No one appreciates Juicy J and Three 6 quite like Wiz, and on "Cabin Fever" he proves it. The sample doesn't come from the original "Act Like You Know Me" beat but instead from Juicy J's "If you see em point em out" line. Wiz uses those exact words on his own throbbing hook but of course adds his signature laugh on top.
"Swishers & Liquor"Fat Trel
Big K.R.I.T. doesn't always get his just props for being a talented producer but "Swishers & Liquor" is yet another example of his fluency with strong sampling. Here, he lifts the same baseline and sampled chorus from Three 6's "I'm So High." Plus, Fat Trel embodies the exact same obsession with vices as Three 6 did back in 2000.
"Ain't Nothing"Juicy J Featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa
If anyone has the right to sample Three 6 Mafia, its Juicy J himself. From last year's Rubba Band Business project, Juicy gets Mike Will to sample the twinkling keys from 2001's "Mafia" with an added shot of adrenaline. Juicy's lyrical prowess stays the same but he recruits Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa to help give the song a full facelift.
"Rainbow Colors"Gucci Mane Featuring Young Dolph
One of Three 6's most Southernly dripped and draped cuts made for the perfect Gucci Mane mixtape track. 808 Mafia produced the entirety of Gucci's World War 3 mixtape and wasn't afraid to sample Three 6's molasses-paced song of the same name. "Rainbow Colors" also got hit with Young Dolph's equally as deep voice, making it a syrup sipper's delight.
"Smoked Out Locced Out"Denzel Curry Featuring J.K. The Rapper
Denzel Curry must have seen Three 6 Mafia's lyrical tirade on "Smoed Out Locced Out" as an indirect challenge of skill. All Mafia members completely spazz on the slept on 2000 mixtape 3-6 Feet Underground Da Unreleased Demon. He pulled the beat verbatim and proceeded to rap with the same cutthroat intensity that proves that rappers from the South can flex as hard lyrically as they do musically.
"Break The Law"Mac Miller Featuring Juicy J
Mac Miller's acclaimed GO:OD AM album sampled one of Three 6's recent chant-a-long anthems and featured Juicy J himself. Drew Byrd and Thundercat didn't take any instrumentation from Three 6's "Break Da Law" but Mac took the chorus and ran with it. With Juicy providing substantial backup vocals, Mac smoothly cries out for people to "get money, fuck the system, break the law."
"Shakem Off"Big K.R.I.T. Featuring K Camp and Ludacris
Juicy J's iconic "yeah hoe" adlib has become one of the most sampled sounds in hip-hop, appearing most prominently on 2000's "Mafia Niggaz." There are hundreds of songs that have sampled that exact sound but none like Big K.R.I.T's posse cut "Shakem Off." The beat is built around that adlib and the demeanor of the song embodies the arrogance of shouting, "yeah hoe."