Da Mafia 6ix at Amsterdam, 3/31/14

Publicity photo
Da Mafia 6ix
with Sozay, Whitney Peyton, Twisted Insane, and Compton Menace
Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul
Monday, March 31, 2014

Da Mafia 6ix, the current identity of Three 6 Mafia sans Juicy J and the late Lord Infamous, made the St. Paul appearance of their current 60-day tour mere days after Juicy J's recent stop. DJ Paul, Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, and, yes, Lord Infamous' supposed corpse, all hit the stage for a long set that left quite an impact.

See also:
Review: Juicy J at Myth, 3/28/14

The night's massive line-up seemed like it might have gotten tiresome in spite of the potential talent, but the openers that came along on busses seemed to capture the growing crowd's attention. Each act had a knack for the kinds of stage presence techniques that can change the room's entire dynamics, but they also mostly insisted on using backing tracks for their songs. Sozay stood alone as someone who rapped without computerized assistance, instead leaning on a pair of hype men, and his in-your-face style had a tinge of the aggressiveness of Headshots-era underground, balanced with bouncy backing beats. 

"The Queen of the 215," Philidelphia's own Whitney Peyton, was a prime example of why the backing track phenomena can especially hurt a performance: She could really rap, but there were few sparse moments where this was evident over the conflicting tracking. Same goes for the otherwise impressive Twisted Insane, whose chop-raps rival those of a Tech N9ne or a Busta Rhymes but were often buried underneath another layer of pre-canned vocals. Mind-blowingly fast at times, Twisted Insane grabbed my attention strictly from styling, which frankly is a rare bird these days.

Peyton and Twisted Insane both won over the audience though thanks in part to well choreographed antics, like the former rapping her final song entirely through while standing on top of the pit, or the latter donning goat skull masks or rapping in the midst of the lighter-waving crowd for a song about overdosing. Compton Menace played mostly middle of the road, owning the stage strictly with straight rapping that fused a West Coast sensibility with a modern sense of club music. It was a diverse set of openers and all interesting choices on Da Mafia 6ix's part.

By the time the headliners hit the stage, it was clear that even though this was a Monday and even though this was St. Paul and even though the show needed to end by exactly 11 p.m., they were going to tear the club up. The fairly full audience suddenly leapt a few notches as the hit parade began in full. At some point in the night, Gangsta Boo bragged about how they've got too many hits, and it was true; it's easy to forget just how huge all these songs were and how defining they've become for Southern rap's shaping of hip-hop's national consciousness. Every song was gigantic in scope and utterly infectious.

Drugs, murders, fellatio, cars, further drugs, and taking the general attitude of not giving a fuck were the song topics and the crew pummeled them into the ground with a beautiful blunt force that  refused to relent for the entirety of the atypically long set. It's not easy to maintain, much less increase, the audiences energy over a span of time like that, but Da Mafia 6ix had the raw power and the excellent material to make it happen. Hard, hedonistic, and unapologetic, the set was incredibly fun from front to back.

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