While the most famous member of venerated Memphis hip-hop act Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J, has gone solo, the group is carrying on without him, now calling itself Da Mafia 6ix.
And not just the living members of the group, but the spirit of a dead one as well. Recently DJ Paul announced that the casket of his late brother Lord Infamous - who died in December of heart failure - will accompany the group as they travel from Tennessee to Washington on their current tour. (They arrive at Lancaster's Industry Theater on April 12.)
We spoke to DJ Paul about topics including, um, why?
Why did you decide to bring Lord Infamous' casket on this tour?
Man, you know, just wanting to make sure he's a part of the whole deal. He was a big part of putting it together, so we wanted to make sure he's there to witness it.
Were people in the group - and your family - on board with this?
They were shocked at first, a little serious, but they were cool with it.
Just to be clear, is Lord Infamous' body going to be inside?
[Laughs.] You gotta come to the concert and see. We open it up so you'll see. [Editor's note: Paul's publicist assures us that it's not Infamous' actual casket, and his body will not be inside.]
What are the logistics of touring with a casket?
We have to plan the show out different. We gotta have a big ol' trailer that follows our bus and a lot of preparations and stuff have to be in the trailer to make it work out right.
Did you christen the group Da Mafia 6ix because Juicy J couldn't be a part of it for legal reasons?
I didn't change the name because of legal reasons. I don't know why people keep saying that. Me and Lord Infamous made the name up. Me and Juicy are the ones people know as Three 6 Mafia and we own the name together. Me and Juicy are still cool. If I wanted to name it Three 6 Mafia I could, but that would make no sense because it's not Three 6 Mafia because Juicy's not in it. It's a project outside of Three 6 Mafia. That's why I changed the name. Since Lord Infamous passed, we're not gonna change the name.
So, Sony doesn't have an issue with Juicy J recording with the group?
Sony don't care. Sony barely even knows they got Three 6 Mafia on contract. Sony don't like gangsta rap music. They just like if you got a hit on your own, they'll put it out. That ain't gonna go out and put no money behind it if you ain't made no hit. We ain't put an album out since 2008 because they ain't gave a damn. There's been so many transitions and they brought in these people from Great Britain.
Were you not happy with how Sony handled your most recent album for them, 2008's Last2Walk?
They didn't know what they were doing at the time because they were bringing in new people. I wasn't really trippin' on it. "Feel It" was an EDM song with rap verses over it and it had a potential to be a big song, and it was a big song on the underground and on YouTube, but they didn't know what to do with it because it was before EDM was popular in the United States, especially with vocals over it. There really was no genre for it at the time on radio. That was the only thing I was mad they didn't play on MTV because that was back when MTV really did play videos. We went on "TRL" live a couple of times and we should have took that video on there. That was stupid. Otherwise, I was happy. We sold a lot of records through Sony.
Any resistance from the clubs you're playing, because of the casket?
No. We're doing rock venues. We ain't doing no hood clubs. Rock venues don't care. They've seen way crazier.
How did you first hear of Lord Infamous' passing?
Through my family. Not my main family, but my second family. My main family was trying to call me, his mom and my brothers, but my ringer was off. I cut it off because I was working on a lot of music and was hitting the studio to like 5 or 6 in the morning every day. I was trying to get as much sleep as I could and I cut it off for the first time, and that's when it happened.
Do you have any favorite Lord Infamous verses?
My favorite verse of his was "Back Against the Wall" when he starts off "My name is 'The Scarecrow' / busters they approach / they don't know me too well."
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Did you catch The Grammys' inclusion of Lord Infamous in their In Memorium montage?
Yeah, I sent them the picture. They asked me for a picture, I'm the one that sent it. I didn't know they were going to have it that big. I had to watch it.