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 "There wasn't no black people here when Elvis lived down here" ...

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 Dog abuse, dry rub and milky handcuffs ...

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 "What does Memphis stand for? Makin' easy money, pimpin' hoes in style." ...

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In the middle of the work day, the blocks in North Memphis are crowded with residents. Cars are riding through blasting their music, car alarms are going off, dogs are running around without leashes. This is the grittier, grungier 'hood you'd expect to serve as the inspiration for Three 6's soil-covered ditties.

"Man, this 'hood is so bad, there's a precinct right here, at this corner, just for this neighborhood," J says, pointing at the building that looks like a cross between a house and a small church. "You see the police car parked in front? When you walk into that office you will get greeted by police, and they may not have donuts, but they have handcuffs; they dip 'em in milk and put them on you."

  Juicy J takes over the 1's and 2's
As Juicy and Paul literally stroll down memory lane, pointing out a Boys Club where Juicy used to play basketball and a house they once rented for $100 a month ("Not a 'hundred,' a 'hunre,' J says, 'h-u-n-r-e' "), all the kids on the block start to follow them.

The tour ends at the front porch of their childhood friend Big Treist, whom they say "drinks for a living."

Treist, a tall, portly man with a loud voice, is every bit as wild as his friends proclaim. When his dog, Star — which he describes as being from the ghetto husky litter — does not obey him, he picks the canine up by one of its front legs and drags the dog to the back of the yard as everyone winces. "He was so drunk, he ran over his own self once," Paul laughs heartily later in the evening at one of the group's favorite eateries, a BBQ spot called Rendezvous, famous for its dry barbecue. ("Dry" or "dry rub" is where the cook relies on special seasoning and uses zero barbecue sauce.)

For the past decade, Three 6 consistently have been able to keep themselves on radio and in the club with their own brand of crunk, which they describe as having "a Memphis bounce." Before Lil Jon came to national prominence with his head-bashing anthems, Three 6 were going platinum with fight music like "Tear Da Club Up." "It started with three people in the group, ended up with six, Three 6 Mafia," Juicy J explains of his team's name.

J supports his brother Project Pat
Paul and J have lost several members of their crew due to one thing or another. Paul's brother Project Pat, the camp member with the best chance to succeed as a break-out solo star — remember "Chickenhead"? — has been in jail for the past three years for violating his parole. Paul's other brother, Lord Infamous, is in jail as well. Gangsta Boo left the fold to do her own thing, as did the Mafia's other female member, La' Chat.

These days, Paul and J have been concentrating on grooming a couple of new acts, the aforementioned Frayser Boy, as well as Lil Wyte.

"Thirteen years ago I was sitting right here with some headphones on, listening to Three 6 Mafia," says Lil Wyte, hanging out near his childhood home. "I still wake up every morning, like damn, I used to sit on this porch right here and I would smoke my blunts and talk about how one day if I get a Three 6 Mafia beat, I'd tear that thing up."

  Lil' Wyte on meeting Three 6 Mafia
Wyte's independently released Doubt Me Now and his major-label debut, Phinally Phamous, both have sold well over 100,000 copies, strictly due to word-of-mouth and street buzz.

The MC with the heaviest buzz on the streets at the moment, though, is a cat named Yo Gotti.

Gotti, who grew up in North Memphis, has secured himself two record deals: one with TVT, which will release his solo album Back to Da Basics, in September; and another with Cash Money Records, which will release his LP with a collective called the Block Burners sometime in 2006.

"It's Memphis, but I'm producing that reality music," Gotti, standing beside his 1967 Firebird in the Ridge Crest apartment complex, says about how his Southern smoke will translate outside the region. "It's real, just like where I'm at. I'm still in the 'hood and everything. I'm gonna talk about stuff I see happen right around here where I'm at."

NEXT: 'A woman came up to me with her two daughters and she said to me in a strong voice, 'Baby, don't feel like that. Look around you.' ' ...
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