On the intro to Both Worlds *69 (Hypnotize Minds/Loud; Grade: B-), the sophomore release from Three 6 Mafia moll Gangsta Boo, one of the Three Six impresarios announces that the record is dedicated to “all you motherfuckers that went pop. Hypnotize Minds is gonna keep it gangsta.” This tough talk no doubt comes from the heart and has an element of truth -- the Three 6 family has made what is likely the roughest stuff (lyrically and musically) to ever scale the Billboard Top 10. But the statement is also disingenuous: Three 6’s music has gotten more “pop over the last couple of years -- which is precisely why they've moved from regional phenomenon to national commercial force -- and the music is all the better for it. This evolution is more detectable on Three 6 satellite releases than on the more rabidly antisocial records under the Three 6 Mafia moniker. Project Pat’s relatively relaxed and witty Mista Don’t Play from earlier this year earned its success with chart-worthy singles “Don’t Save Her” and the sublimely funny “Chickenhead.” Now comes Both Worlds, a quantum leap over Boo’s 1999 debut, Enquiring Minds. Both Worlds opens rather conventionally, with the belligerent, charmless, hater-hating “Hard Not 2 Kill” and “They Don’t Love Me.” But then Boo turns the musical corner with three memorable songs that offer real insight on real subjects. “Mask 2 My Face’ transitions out of the bludgeoning opening songs with a believable ode to drug purchasing that moves from trolling the projects to a flight to Amsterdam. Then comes the good stuff: “Love Don’t Live (U Abandoned Me)” is a break-up song that makes brilliant use of a title hook sampled from Rose Royce, a move we wouldn’t have expected from Three 6 a few years ago. Then there’s “Can I Get Paid (Get Your Broke Ass Out),” which is artistically ambitious in that Boo raps in a voice that isn’t quite her own. Here Boo is a stripper (whose favorite song to dance to is Gangsta Boo’s “Where Dem Dollars At”) spitting a diatribe against cheap patrons. Surely the recent hip-hop fixation on strip-club culture deserves a deeper analysis than Boo’s accepting commentary, but she adds plenty of righteous common sense to the subject by merely proffering the blunt chorus “Get your broke ass out the club/If you ain’t gonna tip.” After that trifecta, Both Worlds takes another turn for the typical, and the group’s chronic musical limitations are more noticeable: the tiring horrorcore synths and a chanting, metronomic flow that doesn’t hold up very well over 70 minutes. But the record rebounds with useful cameos from Project Pat and Three 6’s Crunchy Black and with Boo finding her footing again with a couple of ribald sex tales: Boo gives a “player” what he deserves with the title-says-it-all “I Faked It” and takes an unexpected turn on the cheating song “Your Girl’s Man.”


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