The following is part two of an ongoing Heave series on the work of southern rap pioneers Three 6 Mafia.
You’re at the club. You’re dancing, or at least that’s what you call it; it’s more like you’re puffing your chest and shuffling your feet tediously so you can devote more attention to how everyone else is looking at you. The crowd parts, and there you see a Rita Hayworth cut-out just thumping it. Now, your jaw drops, your eyes can’t get enough of that booty, but you pretend not to notice because she’s out of your league. Nonetheless, you keep looking back every two seconds, hoping she’ll make eye contact (which is kind of hard when you’re trying to take a Polaroid of her tits). She keeps dancing, she’s into the music and you think that she doesn’t notice you – not because she’s got better things to worry about, but because you think you’re such a sly player that your gaze would elude even the most perceptive of goddesses. And plus, if she’s not looking at you, it’s not because she’s not interested, it’s because there must be some mistake. This whole predicament carries on for the next two songs, until finally she turns her back to you and slips you the middle finger without even looking. You get that hot burning feeling down your neck like you’re caught in an armed robbery, you finally realize why your mother hates you, your self-image begins to transform to that of those sociopathic sexual predators you see on TV, you once thought men were hunters but now that you’ve been shot dead in your tracks that’s all changed.
You have a few drinks to forget the embarrassment, and resume your conceited ways by looking at another attractive woman sitting down at the other end of the bar. Her dress fits nicely to her body, she doesn’t seem to be interested in anybody on the dance floor, you’re the only two sitting there. Again, your mind is consumed in this maniacal rush, you keep sitting at various angles to sneak a look at her, but you know deep down you stand no chance. You won’t do anything, but you need to stare and have your presence accepted just to compensate for your previous asswhooping. She appears not to care, knocking back more whiskeys than it takes you to face plant. Soon, Usher comes on, she’s fed up, she slips you the middle finger too. Again, it’s a no-looker. The fire in your loins has been iced, kidnapping plots with premonitions of unrealistically hot motel sex requiring a sexual skill set well beyond your capacity defused, and to top it all off, you drank too much absinthe so the Candyman comes to cipher your balls.
By the time you leave, you’re the only pile of shit around that has a frown on his face. There on the street corner you see both of your failed pursuits conferring intensely about something. You don’t catch any of it, but you’re so wrapped up in your own self-consciousness that you fear they’re talking all about you. The hard truth is, you never even came up.
You consider that possibility and it hurts you way more than a complaint ever would, because at least a complaint would signify that you had their attention. You go home and turn on the radio to ease your nerves. But there’s a song on called “Enquiring Minds,” and it has a badass beat with a long monologue at the beginning, and the intro goes something like this:
[guy] ay ay
Ain’t you gangsta boo?
Why you wanna know?
[guy] ay ay, you
Ain’t you used to go to sheffield?
[boo] what? !
See, this is the prime example
Of some enquiring minds
Mothafuckas in my business
Suddenly, you realize Gangsta Boo is talking to you. You wake up in the middle of night tossing and turning from visions of waking up sweating with a gun in your mouth. But ease yourself, you’re not that important. You wake up with a hangover, you vomit an exorcism, and you learn your lesson. Next time, you go to the club you’ll make damn sure that the only player you’ll be mentally undressing is yourself.
Although it’s easy to group them up as the collective female foil to the male perspective of “Hypnotized Minds,” La Chat and Gangsta Boo are kind of like the Andre 3000-Big Boi tandem of the Three 6 entourage. They’re two artists who each have their own distinct flavor but share some common goals: to represent not only the woman’s perspective, but also Memphis, hip-hop and themselves as individuals. Media perception tends to assemble categories for artists to slide into, and that doesn’t do justice to the nuances of each of these tried, tested, true warriors. La Chat is the street pusher, she’ll dig your grave and bury you in it too. ou don’t get to testify for forgiveness because the verdict’s already filed. She’s tailor-made for those moments where your diplomacy has been betrayed, and going Gandhi just won’t cut it. Gangsta Boo, on the other hand, is kind of like a genie of the streets. Your wish is not her command, but if you are brave enough to rub that lamp, and humble enough to rub it the right way, she has no problem gracing you with her presence. She’s the boss of the celestial forces, the mother of mind games, and the authority on etiquette. Cross her, and she’ll go gangster too, but where La Chat will leave the blood and gore for you to mull over, Gangsta Boo won’t even do you the justice of leaving the body. Yes, your funeral will have no viewing, because chances are if you push her that far you won’t even deserve to know if it even really happened. She has class like a million dollar chalice. You serve her, she doesn’t serve you. If she can’t take your call, you leave a voicemail, and don’t call twice. Respect that and I think your family can at the very least receive an occupied casket. Between them, their balance of earth and water serves as a treatment for all social ills.
In 1998, Gangsta Boo dropped her first solo record, Enquiring Minds. The album features elements of the Hypnotize cauldron while repping some harder, faster verses than her other material. The verbal interplay and rapid flow are a distant cry from the traditionally long Southern drawl that defines the Three 6 sound, but the quicker release creates an up front and articulate mentality that’s like Velcro to your consciousness. “Enquiring Minds” may come out like an angry whirlwind of restraining orders on prying men, but it’s also a love note to the use of bug spray and brute force on parasitic types who can only gather steam in life by sucking it out of your business, those insecure people who would rather calculate your bearings and vilify you than to possess any security or occupation of their own. And if you can’t take it, then a few tracks later she says it all: “Fuck You.”
Most of her cult following is for her unabashed flaunting of female sexuality, but to boil it down to mere aggressiveness deceives you of her versatility. She plays her sexuality like a rubber band. She can be the pimp that makes the moves, but she can also go burlesque and tease you to seduction. When she really wants to get under your skin, she won’t restrain from using her charm to hit you where it hurts. “Nasty Trick” is the prime example. She makes her sexuality available with her raunchy delivery, but then slips in a mockery of her male counterpart. It’s poison as smooth as Guinness, luring in the prey before skinning it. If you bypass the foreplay, she will too. Any man that fronts can expect her to front right back with added vigor. It’s a formula she perfects on Both Worlds *69’s “I Faked It Last Night” and Three 6’s “Hoes Can Be Like Niggaz.” Don’t delude yourself into thinking the sexuality just plays a role in getting some, she’ll use it as a line of defense on drug anthems like “High Off That Weed” and “Money and the Powder.” She puts to rest any notions that she won’t go hard just because some scumbags exist who might take advantage of her. She’ll party with the same abandon that men do and if you choose to mess with her, she’ll mess you up good.
Coming off her cameo on Project Pat’s “Chickenhead”, where her verses ably outweigh the testicular masquerade of Project Pat, Juicy J, and DJ Paul in both truth and musical savvy, La Chat released Murder She Spoke. The album featured the song “Crumb 2 a Brick.” Its driving pulse and clockwork flow packs heavy and takes on anyone that puts their mind to it. In even the most fairy tale relationships, it seems like any argument features a circumstance where the guy tries to censor a woman’s retaliation by pouting at her or dismissing the issue by appearing resilient and unaffected. “You Ain’t Mad Iz Ya” undoes their veneer of disaffection, and burns the fairy godmother at the stake, glass slippers and all. She plays indifferent dominatrix on “Slob On My Cat,” ordering oral as casually as French fries at a fast food joint, and her sense of humor is like the duck tape over your ball and gag. “What Kinda Bitch Do You Want?” provides a list of punishments fit to scale for the gimmicks of corruption and deceit you’ve got planned for her, and the liberating ode to criminality “Yeah, I Rob” puts your plans for reform to shame. If you think she’s angry, maybe you’re the mad one, because even in spite of her lashing out every now and then on this record, she’s mostly just doing so because you keep squirming every time she tries to spoon feed you the truth – just sit still and take it or come strapped with a bib. I guarantee you will swallow.
In the same year, Gangsta Boo released her follow up, Both Worlds *69. It’s a watershed moment in the Hypnotize Minds label’s catalog that, along with La Chat’s Murder She Spoke, cements their reputations both as Mafia royalty and as the two baddest rappers in the South. This album combines the lyrical versatility of Enquiring Minds with the supernatural sorcery of early Three 6 production. Her doubled vocals are double vision: two Boos approaching twice as hard, culminating in a lurid blacklight blur. “Same Block” possesses a rolling string cycle, heavy bass and relentless rhythm that are inseparable from her rolling swagger and her unshakeable self-belief. She announces her immortality with a declaration of destruction on those who are foolish enough to test her, and lets you know that if you ever find yourself at her sword’s end, she probably wasn’t the one asking for trouble in the first place. If you’ve got that special kind of snitch in your life who makes his or her problems public responsibility, the Piscean flow of “Victim of Yo Shit” restores the debt to its rightful owner. Passive aggressiveness is just another form of cowardice, and she won’t sit down for that, but if you nag her for her judgment, she’ll be more than happy to slap the sense right back into you.
No two people should take each other for granted, and La Chat & Gangsta Boo are here to keep you honest. Their threatening brass knuckles aren’t here to start the terror, they’re here to end it.