Its sad when it usually takes tragedy to really appreciate an individual. As I look at the unreal display of R.I.P. Lord Infamous posts throughout Hip Hop sites across the country and the Hypnotized Mind Camp sending their condolences to their fallen friend. It also dawned on me that people don’t realize how influential Ricky Dunigan has been throughout the Southern Rap Scene.
Before Juicy J, Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, Project Pat and many other Hypnotize Camp Posse members became apart of the family, It was just Lord Infamous and his half Brother DJ Paul. Both clearly inspired by NWA, Ice Cube, Chuck D, D.O.C and the “gangster rap” direction Hip Hop was going, Paul and Lord named themselves “Tha Serial Killerz”. A mixture of what would be labeled “Horrorcore” mixed with Gangsta rap. They would sell their tapes all over the streets and hoods of Memphis. They would put out a series titled Come to Hell with Me which introduced a more darker route content wise and sonically in comparison to groups out a the time.
The brothers met fellow beatmaker/Rapper Juicy J and formed the group BackYard Posse where they would release a slew of EPs and tapes to build their cult following throughout the hoods of Memphis. Juice would be a key element to the sound Paul has already incorporated as his own. Whereas Paul was more into sampling horror movies and going the devilish route, Juice showed that he was more soulful which is where he would sample more 70s records and add more soulful/pimpish grooves into the mix. The two built a true bond-ship and started Hypnotize Minds Records.
Triple 6 Mafia/Three 6 Mafia
Lord and Paul wanted a name to stand out from the pact, Something that was gonna grab attention and literally shock people. This is where the group decided to name themselves Triple 6 Mafia which was clearly a name that would literally scare your new hip hop head out of his spine. Considering the orgin of 666 stands for the Mark of the Beast and the guys content of phrasing the occult. It made you wonder did these guys really worship to the devil? Is it really just a gimmick? Juicy J claimed the meaning for the name is that it started with three members(Lord, Paul and himself) and it ended with Gangsta Boo, Koopsta Knicca, and Crunchy Black(who later joined) which is where 3-6 came from. It would be a smart move business wise to change the name from Triple 6 to Three 6 considering how fearful executives would have been in marketing the group, The name may have changed but the content and the direction never did. This is what made their debut album titled Mystic Stylez an underground classic. The cover visual of the Crucifixion alone sold the illusion that these guys are dangerous and scary. Mystic Stylez was the appropriate name for the album because it was a mixture of different style into the equation.
It was Lord Infamous that stood out throughout this album, He brought out the tongue twisting flow which was very addictive and in many cases throughout the Three 6 mafia albums demonic based off his content and gruff voice. Listening to Lord’s verses throughout these albums are like revisiting a horror film on wax. He’s probably proved throughout these Three 6 Mafia albums that he’s up there with Tech9ne and Brotha Lynch Hung in terms of execution with that quick tongue flow while delivering the murderous content. Lord would also release his first underground album titled Lord of Terror which swarmed the streets along with the rest of the HCP’s underground tapes, retail albums and EPs.
Suffering from Success
Three 6 Mafia (With Lord featured) in spite of losing members throughout the years would grow even bigger.Their signature “crunk” sound would cross over into different levels among the game. Inspiring different regions to attempt to duplicate that hardcore signature sound. Their albums Chapter 2 World Domination, When the Smoke Clears, Tear Da Club Up Thugs, Unbreakables, and The Most Unknowns would sell either Gold or Platinum making them players in Rap Game next to their Southern peers Cash Money, No Limit, and Rap A Lot. But Three 6 would do what none of them would do. Make history and bring home Hip Hop’s first Oscar. As Three 6 Mafia the group would grow into a multi million dollar brand, Many other group members would fall out with mainly Paul and Juicy. Most of it to do with not being compensated for their work because they would do albums for the Hypnotized Minds Imprint. Over the years affiliates(Playa Fly, T-Rock, Kingpin Skinny Pimp,) and core members(Crunchy Black, Koopsta, Boo) would leave the group as well. Lord’s exit from the group wasn’t financial but more-so personal.
Lord’s demons that he was expressing throughout his records were becoming a apart of his reality. For the latter part of Three 6?s newly found success, Lord was making headlines for his personal mishaps. Like many Lord had trouble in adapting to the new-found attention and didn’t really want the spotlight. It was a hard adjustment to make as He was battling a serious drug addiction which led to his erratic behavior at times being in and out of prison. Most notably for a domestic dispute with a family member. Doing time in prison made Lord reflect on his life. He claimed that he didn’t want to reach to the outside world and chose to do his time with no visitor or phone calls. Lord’s choice to not reach out made many believe that there was beef amongst the crew. But Lord stated that he never had no issues with Paul or Juice, Lord’s incarceration caused a breach of Three Six’s contract with Sony so Lord left the group on Good terms and chose to focus on his label titled Black Rain Entertainment. Lord would release many albums and EPs under his imprint, Some of the LP’s went under the radar due to him not having the distribution or the magic touch of Paul and Juicy’s production(whom stock sky-rocketed at the time). But he kept it hardcore and stayed true to himself throughout and did work with many Indie artists from Memphis.
The Deal with Sony
All of the drugs, drinking, and restless nights would catch up with Lord as on June 25th 2010 he would suffer his first heart attack and stroke. This would be the first sign of the members reaching back out to one another as they spent years going at one another. He would recover and go right back to work, Reuniting with Paul for the first time in years for his album titled Scale-Ton. Lord showed throughout Scale-Ton that he never lost a step and he was back in rare form despite his health scare. The contract situation was more complicated than the group had imagined. Their album titled Last 2 Walk(which featured Juice and Paul as a Three 6 Mafia album) were both a critical and musical disappointments. It was a critical disappointment from the fan perspective who hated the new commercial decided Paul and Juice decided to go for. It became a financial disappointment from Sony’s perspective as they hoped the group who once won an Oscar would deliverer the numbers they had hoped. The Sony deal was what also kept Lord from continuing to work with the group as well. Like many groups and major labels, They became contractually stuck in a limbo. They couldn’t release any music together call themselves Three 6 Mafia anymore and risked fading into obscurity. Instead of falling back like many groups, They kept on working. Juice went the more mainstream route with his music and re-established a new base for his solo career. He started collaborating with every hot artist at the moment(Whenever it be Rap, R&B, Pop) to keep his name out there.
Paul and Lord on the other hand went back to the old Hypnotize Camp Posse recipe by revisiting the old sound that made them famous. Spooky but hard knocking synths, addictive fight club chants, Lord released a one of the best albums of 2012 with GA producer 6ig B6oi 6eats supplying him some of the best firepower he has had in years. He was the only producer to really produce an entire Lord’s solo album. It was proven to be a smart move for the members to still get their money and stay corral with one another. Juice done secured the money from the pop world with hits such as Bandz Make her Dance, Lord and Paul kept the core base happy with his releases including the highly anticipated reunion project featuring all of the core members of Three 6 Mafia titled Da Mafia Six.
Da Mafia Six Reunion
According to Paul, It was Lord’s idea to bring the group back together. Throughout the past 15 years personal problems, vendettas, contract issues, and egos have kept the group away from making music with that type of magic that we loved from them in the first place. It was even shocking how the group didn’t lose a musical step as the Reunion was well worth the wait. What made Da Mafia Six album so special is that the group still meshed well. Concerns about Juice not being apart of it were pretty much silenced.
Excited about the reception from the album from the Streets. Lord wanted to bring the group back together for an official reunion album for 2014. He also planned on releasing more albums with Paul continuing the Come with Me 2 Hell series and the highly anticipated solo album hopefully produced by both Paul and Juice. All of those plans took a turn for a tragic turn as Lord would suddenly die of a sudden heart attack, Living the hip hop world including his fellow crew members in total shock. Paul was said to been in total disbelief of Lord’s passing: "I didn’t really believe it at first. They was like,“Rick died.” I was like, “Ricky who?” I don’t know but one Ricky, I wasn’t prepared to hear that. But at the same time I was kind of prepared because he was talking about it lately. He told me like two weeks ago. And I don’t know if the doctors told him this for real or he was fucking with me. He was like, “I got like four months to live, doctor told me because of my kidneys started back up from the stroke.” I was like, “Get out of here.”
He was telling his momma last week that he wanted to get right with everybody that he ever made mad in his life. But he never made anybody mad because everybody loved him. People who had hate me or Juicy or whatever, they always loved Lord Infamous. He was the nicest dude in the world. If you didn’t have clothes, he would give you his shirt off his back, literally. He would take it off and give it to you on the spot. He didn’t care about money he just loved people and really loved kids. He loved anybody that wasn’t doing well. He used to give homeless people money, he made us pull the tour bus over and give money. He didn’t really care about money like that or material stuff period.
Lately, he was so happy about everything that was going on like the regroup of the crew. That was his idea. He fought for that with me. He was like, “We got to do this.” It was supposed to be just me and him bringing back Come With Me 2 Hell series. But he wanted to do the group thing first, with the whole group. He always looking out for other people before himself. He always lived like that. But lately he be talking about death and this and that. I was like maybe he just excited about the group and it’s almost like it’s too good to be true to him. He would be talking about how excited he was. Then this shit happened.
The Hip Hop World is in total mourning because the game lost a true pioneer, an underrated artist and an overall good guy. People whom only know Lord from his murderous, devilish raps don’t even realize that the guy had a heart of gold. He was open to give anybody a shot or a feature and never allowed the fame to go to his head. As Paul would say, He would look out for everybody else before himself which is possibly the reason why he went out like I did as well. R.I.P. to a true pioneer of the Southern rap Scene. The Scarecrow will live on as a legend.