DJ PAUL & JUICY JAY: In Adventures in Hollyhood, Three 6 get to be themselves — what more could you ask for?
Memphis rappers Three 6 Mafia were trailblazers in the genre of crunk, a largely forgotten species of hip-hop characterized by big and ugly club beats and chanted (or yelled) semi-sensical choruses. Although the group have been around in various incarnations since 1991, their fortunes rose with crunk’s in the early part of this decade. They even scored a 2006 Oscar for best original song for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” from Hustle and Flow. (You might remember host Jon Stewart’s commentary: “For those of you keeping score at home, Martin Scorsese, zero, Three 6 Mafia, one.”)
Three 6’s rise has also been tied to another trend in hip-hop: declining CD sales. But they were lucky enough to have MTV tap them for a reality series: Three 6 Mafia: Adventures in Hollyhood. And now the group, along with Sony, have cashed in again by releasing the entire eight-episode series on DVD.
The show chronicles the move by group members Juicy J and DJ Paul to LA and their largely unsuccessful attempts to break into the film industry. The guys are in way over their heads when it comes to acting auditions and pitching scripts, and the fish-out-of-water elements are played up, especially via Juicy J, the more naive of the pair. DJ Paul (who, like Juicy J, raps as well as produces) is the crew’s elder statesman, reminiscent of Bernie Mac in his deadpan delivery.
Also living in the bland rented house are Juicy J’s brother, rapper Project Pat (who barely speaks the entire season), and their assistants, Computer and Big Triece. Triece, we soon learn, didn’t finish high school until he was 21, and his sister is still a virgin at 34. Needless to say, we’re rooting for him from the start, and the most compelling episode sees him propose to his girlfriend. Nearly as large as Triece himself, she’s called Sugar Foot, and Paul and J buy her a Greyhound ticket from Memphis to surprise her lover.
“Can I touch your booty?” asks Triece when she arrives, glowing with happiness. “Maybe later,” she responds. Soon he gets down on bended knee and presents her with a ring (also paid for by the Three 6 guys). Later, we’re treated to night-vision shots of the pair in bed, and at one point Sugar Foot raids the refrigerator for love-potion ingredients. “That’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen somebody mix sugar and ranch dressing together as a aphrodisiac,” comments Paul. Against all odds, it’s actually moving.
Less endearing is Ashton Kutcher’s pimping out of Laguna Beach star Kristin Cavallari, whom he sets up with Juicy J. (Kutcher just happens to serve as one of Hollyhood’s executive producers.) On their date, J starts a small fire at the table and then attempts to get Cavallari to come home with him. It’s more awkward than Blind Date, Elimidate, and Date My Mom combined.
In the final episode, the guys return to Memphis seeking inspiration for their new album. After eating barbecue and visiting their old haunts, they’re back in LA with a hot track. Unfortunately, their listening party is poorly attended. Exactly one love connection appears to be made that night, the guys’ neighbor Fern leaving with their doctor, Martin. Both are old, saggy white folks, and the Three 6 guys have been determined all night to get them together. It’s funny, and sweet, and about as close to reality as reality television gets, because, whatever faults they may have, Three 6 Mafia are great at just being themselves. And that’s as rare a commodity in hip-hop as it is in Hollywood.