DJ Paul, the trooper that he is, is no doubt still grieving the loss of his Three 6 Mafia bandmate Koopsta Knicca, who passed away earlier this month, as well as his half brother and co-founder of the group, Lord Infamous, who passed in 2013. Still he trudges on though. In March he released a quasi Triple 6 album, Watch What U Wish, only this time under the altered stage name Da Mafia 6ix. Although it was an obvious revisitation for them stylistically, it did benefit from enthusiastic participation from everyone involved. Yesterday (Oct. 30), the “King of Memphis” dropped his fifth solo album, Master of Evil, another DJ Paul standard of delightfully spooky beats (he still has his touch) with his unique line of gangsta/horrorcore lyrics. Loyal fans will rejoice; however, except for a few special moments, the LP is an exercise in redundancy for the one of a kind Southern producer/rapper.
From the darkest, most pessimistic and critical approach, Master of Evil is twenty-three tracks and an hour and twelve minutes of typical Three 6 Mafia themes: getting lost in the world of drugs, sex and violence, honoring dead homies, rueing traitorous ex-homies who ‘changed sides’ and the like. On top of that, we get more of Paul’s competent rapping of basic rhymes, not advanced lyricism by any stretch of the imagination and really the same delivery he’s employed his whole career. The production, while slightly updated and expertly assembled thanks to Paul’s more than experienced technique, offers perhaps not enough variety and versatility from track to track. Master of Evil is a satisfactory escape into the clutches of darkness, but by no means is it a new hip-hop invention.
Fortunately, the special parts would include Paul’s more personal moments and his mature confessions. Not long after the album opens up, he begins the healing process of mourning Koopsta Knicca and remembers him kindly in later sections as well. In “She Rocks Dat,” Paul shows appreciation and gratitude for the strong, loyal woman by his side, and in “Die Anyway,” he discusses growing up, straightening his act and teaching his kids how to stand on two feet. Later, in “Blackhaven Zone,” he talks about his life as a young one with Koopsta and his other childhood friends so we get a story and some personality there. All add up to some saving grace in what some might have thought was a wasted project.
Unfortunately, the very wise moments are few, and despite what DJ Paul fanatics might say, Master of Evil is not his best artistic product. In fact, going through the album, it seems Paul could have slipped some previous album songs in, if of course one weren’t intimately familiar with the full DJ Paul/late Three 6 Mafia catalog. Special shouts go out to guests Violent J, Yelawolf, Lil Wyte, Paul’s former right hand man Juicy J and even Lord Infamous in some newly recovered verses. Listening to Master of Evil from start to finish is a little laborious, but Paul’s rough, raw and husky voice and menacing, wicked character plus some fair to good macabre beats are all back in full force to haunt us just a little more this Halloween.