Whether spitting demonically twisted twists as The Scarecrow or abrasive crunk couplets as Keyser Soze, South Parkway Village-South Memphis legend, Triple Six Mafia co-founder and part-time psychotic prescription drug fanatic Lord Infamous has always taken his and Three 6 Mafia‘s music to another realm and is a hardcore fan favourite.
Having given his brother DJ Paul‘s group some distance while he saw to some personal and legal issues, Lord hasn’t stopped grinding. In 2007, he dropped ‘The Man, The Myth, The Legacy’ a whole 13 years after his solo debut ‘Lord Of Terror’. Then, in January this year, Lord released ‘After Sics’ with Black Rain Ent artist showcase crew the Club House Click, leading to suspicions that, musically at least, he wouldn’t be dealing with Three 6 in the near future.
And with some harder-core Three 6 fans feeling ill at ease with some of the single choices the group, now consisting of only Paul and Juicy, have gone for, there was a collective sigh of relief, mixed with intense delight, that on the promotional run-up to Paul’s upcoming solo album ‘Scale-A-Ton’ the pair were reunited on the excellent ‘Pop A Pill’ and in both audio and low-fi video glory on ‘You On’t Want It’.
We caught up with the man born Ricky Dunigan while he was at a cousin’s house in East Memphis:
What’s your current status with Three 6?
I never left Three 6. I’ve always been a part of Three 6. I did some time and that was holding the group back and I don’t wanna hold my brother back – you know Paul’s my half-brother. They just went on doing they thing, and it’s like a breach of contract when you go to jail so it fucked up things with Sony. They had just released a double platinum album and the Oscar single for the Hustle & Flow soundtrack and stuff, so I just had to wait. But I’m about to join back up with ‘em though. Me and my brother at least are gonna do some more of that underground stuff that we did in the first place, you know, the ‘Come With Me To Hell’ type stuff, and maybe there may be a surprise Three 6 thing in the future, but we still discussing that.
As someone who was there from the very beginning, do you regret not reaping the rewards of the Oscar and chart success the group has had more recently?
Of course, of course. Even though if it wasn’t for what happened previously, all the success we had previously, it’s not like you can come straight from an underground record to Oscar status and be recognised by the people at the Academy. Me and Paul had a conversation about this actually when I got out of jail. I congratulated him because I came out like the day before it came on and I was like: ‘I’m proud of you’. And he told me: ‘Well don’t be proud of me because we couldn’t have did it without all the stuff you did’.
So do you still speak to Paul often?
Yeah. I just wanna say RIP to Juanita Beauregard; that’s our mother and she just passed February 2nd and I want the world to know about her. She was a good woman.
How did she influence your music?
She put up with all our noise in the bedroom, because we started off with a little studio in our bedroom. And our room was right next to her and pops’ bedroom, so they couldn’t stand the noise because we made a lot of racket and we had other rappers coming in all the time, and they put up with that. And plus, she listened to a lot of soul music when we was growing up so that influenced us. And in church. She tried to make us go to church but we just didn’t tend to stick with it.
So how did she react when you started putting out music talking about the devil and that kind of stuff?
She was proud of us, but at the same time you know how older people are. She didn’t really pay attention to what we was saying. She would hear about it but she wouldn’t really give us any strife about it or nothing. And she knew it was just music.
When did you write your first ever verse?
Man, I been rapping since I was 15. At the time I was listening to a lot of New York rappers, like Eric B and Rakim, and I was listening to a lot of DOC and NWA and Slick Rick, people like that. Public Enemy… The first rap I ever did was a Chuck D verse. I used to rap ‘My Uzi Weighs A Ton’ in school and people used to like it so I said: ‘Well fuck that I’ma start writin’ my own shit’. People seemed to like my shit. I’m not saying I’m better than Chuck D, but people seemed to like my own shit. Down south we have our own kind of music, you know, we talk about different subjects than what people talk about up north.
There was a few underground rappers popular down here, guys like Gangsta Pat, Eightball and MJG was already doing they thing, and you got Skinny Pimp and I used to hear their little tapes. There was a deejay named Sunny D and a deejay named Spanish Fly and they used to sell people mixtapes; so I used to get them and say: ‘How hard can this be? How do they loop the beats and how do they programme the drum machines?’. So we started going over to a deejay’s house named Just Born and we would watch everything he would do and what kind of equipment he would have and watch how he would loop records and programme the drum machine and what kind of boards he would use.
There was a couple of drug dealers in our immediate family who had a lot of money that we used to fuck around with. So we would hustle dope at school and we hustled up enough to buy us our own equipment and then we started making these mixtapes called ‘DJ Paul Killer Mixes’ and we would go back to high school to sell ‘em. And then as more people were buying them we bought ourselves a little tape-pressing machine; so we pressed up like four cassettes at a time.
And the demand got bigger and bigger so we started going to a place named S&W Distribution where they would press up large amounts of cassettes, and they would do it wholesale. Then we would go to Sam’s Wholesale Club and buy cassette tapes in bulk and press ‘em up. Then we started taking ‘em to these stereo stores where they do car stereos and they would sell our cassettes. And they would put up little posters of us and then they started selling out of stores real fast.
So we went from selling them out of high school, to selling them out of the trunk, to these stereo stores and then went from there to where it was just too much for S&W. People wanted it so bad that they couldn’t supply our demand, so we had to get a distribution deal. We didn’t really want to because we were making all the money but it gets to a point where you need it, so we went to Select-O, a local distribution company in Memphis, you know Johnny Phillips, Sam Phillips’s brother. You know Sam Phillips that did Elvis? His brother was called Johnny Phillips. And you know Sun Studios and all that, well Johnny Phillips had a distribution company called Select-O-Hits. We went to him and then that’s when we started making stuff like ‘Mystic Styles’ and then shit just blew out of control. The next thing you know New York starts calling and LA starts calling and I believe we went to Relativity first, then we went to Loud, then we went on to Sony, you know how that shit goes..
Was it your goal to make good music or money?
I always wanted to be good at what I did, I wanted to be different. At first I wasn’t in it for fame, I was really just trying to make some money ‘cause I dropped out of school and sometimes hard times will hit. But you get tired of selling drugs and God blessed me with a talent. I guess I used it in a way that he wouldn’t want me to use it, you know the devil thing, the satanic rap thing. But that was just my forté, it was just what I was good at, and I just felt like I liked doing dark music.
I don’t like all that chipper-ass, ring-a-ding-a-ding-ass music. I’m sayin’ that Will Smith type shit, you know? I don’t like that type of shit. And you know I liked NWA but I said I don’t wanna talk about gangbangin’. You know we got gangs here, I’m not gonna say what gang we were in but we were in a gang, but I didn’t wanna do that kind of gangbang type of thing so I said I’ma take it to another level, I’m gonna do something dark. What’s worse than a gangbanger? Evil, satan itself. So I said I’m gonna venture into that side of it and that’s how that came about.
Can you explain the zone you were in when you were writing some of those classic demonic lyrics?
[Laughs] Yeah, I can explain the high zone. Very high. Not all the time, well, a lot of the time [laughs]. You know, it gets to a point man to be real with you, when rapping is not fun no more, it became a job and when something becomes a job it’s not fun any more. So, I hate to say it but, I had to kinda get fucked up before I got on stage or before I went in the studio because I used to do it because I enjoyed it but now I do it to pay the bills. Not no disrespect to my fans, ‘cause I love ‘em to death and I’m very happy they’re pleased with my music but it’s just what I do. It’s how I eat, it’s how I take care of myself. But I still enjoy it when I hear a good beat and I hear someone who’s doing it from the heart and I’m in the studio with some people with good energy.
But a lot of the time you’re around these record label types, these characters, they just look at you like a negro slave, you know what I’m sayin? They might get along with you if you sell records and be your friend but if sales go down then it’s like ‘fuck you’, you know what I’m sayin?
So it must be good now to be doing independent stuff with Black Rain?
Yeah, but I’m not gon’ lie, I kinda miss Paul doing everything for me [laughs]. It’s cool but at the same time I have to talk to a lot of these assholes myself now and I can see why Paul used to be so hard on my about showin’ up to the studio and to shows and shit, being fucked up sometimes. He used to have to come and find me ‘cause I didn’t give a fuck ‘cause we was making a lot of money, man… but I hate dealing with these distribution people and these fuckin’, you know these fuckin’ A&R agents and publicists and all that shit. But you have to do that. It is what it is.
…controversial, name-checking, Pimp C-style Part 2 of the Lord Infamous interview dropping sooner than you think!
UPDATE!!! Part 2 available now, click here