Story of a Hustla
Crunchy Black is furious and he’s not being shy about it. His new album, From Me To You, will be released on June 12 and he’s extremely displeased. To accentuate his anger, Crunchy constantly bangs his clenched fist on a table in his Memphis home just to show how mad he is. So what has Crunchy Black all riled up? According to him, Three 6 Mafia and Hypnotize Minds are releasing From Me To You without his permission, just as they did with his 2006 solo disc, On My Own.
It’s been over a year since Three 6 won an Oscar for “It’s Hard out Here For a Pimp,” featured on the Hustle & Flow soundtrack, and Crunchy mysteriously has since split from the group. His untimely departure left fans wondering why anyone would leave at the height of the crew’s sucess. While other members, such as Gangsta Boo, Lord Infamous, La Chat and Koopsta Knicca came and went, Black was a mainstay in the group for over 16 years. To hear him tell it, though, as Three 6 became more successful, he was slowly ostracized from the group. Eventually, conflicts over money, touring arrangements and the delay of his solo album became too much to deal with. Crunchy disassociated himself from the remaining members DJ Paul and Juicy J right after the group’s historical performance at the 2006 Academy Awards. Up until now, the AWOL Mafia member has kept the group’s inner turmoil low-key, choosing not to engage in a public rivalry with Paul and Juicy. In an intense interview with XXLMag.com, Crunchy Black reveals all about his decision to leave Three 6 Mafia and his conflict with Paul and Juicy.
You split from Three 6 Mafia and Hypnotize Minds over a year ago. How are they able to put out your new album, From Me To You?
Right now I’m in the process of taking [DJ] Paul and Juicy [J] to court for dropping albums when I ain’t with them; they doin’ it on their own. I was with them for 16 years and the whole [time], everybody was sayin’, “Why aren’t y’all bringing out a Crunchy Black album?” But [Paul and J] were tellin’ folks I couldn’t do an album. Now they’re trying to drop Crunchy Black’s album? When I was with them, they wasn’t droppin’ no Crunchy Black albums. They were like, “Fuck Crunchy Black. He’s just in Three 6 Mafia.” So I’m never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going back to Paul and Juicy for nothin’ in the world. They can come with all the money they [want], I just can’t do it. I’m on my own, like they said.
Any chance of a reconciliation in the future?
I’m not gonna do the Juvenile and try to go back to them to get a lil’ money. If I do, then I ain’t the dude that my fans like on them albums. I feel like I don’t need them anymore, simple and plain.
Does this mean we’re gonna hear some Three 6 Mafia diss tracks from you?
You can kill fools with kindness. I’m not gonna hate on them. I ain’t got diss songs about them. I’m finna start droppin’ these [real Crunchy Black] albums. The first album is [called] The Money Mask, not On My Own or From Me To You. It’s not this make believe album, putting in [old] verses from songs we didn’t use to make a [new] song. This is the real deal.
When will that be out?
I don’t know when it will be nationwide because I’m doing it on my own and I got Paul and Juicy [telling] all them labels, “[Crunchy’s] on drugs, he’s this and that.” But I guarantee you, if you ever saw Crunchy Black in a show, interview or on TV, you didn’t see me high. I’m just tryin’ to do my thing. I ain’t in this game for a lil’ bit. I’m tryin’ to be in this game for a long time like LL Cool J, Run-DMC. For all these young guys who feel like Paul and Juicy are the stuff, make sure y’all get a contract. All of the contracts Paul and Juicy gave us only benefited them. I had to go through all of this legal stuff with them. Right now niggas just gotta be smart and make sure they have them a real music lawyer if they decide to sign with Paul and Juicy. There are so many clauses [in contracts] that can mess you up in the long run. You ain’t heard nothing from Gangsta Boo because they tried to hold her back. They did Lord Infamous like that, [too]. Paul and Juicy wanted to shine all by theyself.
So was money your major issue with them?
They were cuttin’ all the money and shit, so they figured we ain’t got no money to get a lawyer and go at them the legal way. So they felt like they’re gonna do what they wanna do. But I got an album over here. Actually, I got nine albums over here. I got albums on my label I started, which is called the Real Hard Hitters. We got all kinds of record labels that wanna sign us. But I got Paul and Juicy in they ear [saying], “Crunchy cannot do it.” So right now, I’m finna start droppin’ the albums I’m doing. Anything with Crunchy Black and the Hypnotize Minds symbol on it, don’t buy it ’cause you wastin’ your money. I just feel like all of us are supposed to be cool. I saw them do it to [Koopsta Knicca], Gangsta Boo and Lord Infamous. But I was like, “Well, I ain’t gonna get treated like that ’cause I was the one who stayed down.” But as soon as there wasn’t anybody but me, Paul and Juicy, I started feelin’ [different]. Them guys writing all the checks for everybody, so my checks should not look this small. There’s a lot of shit, man.
After being with Three 6 Mafia for 16 years, it must be sad for it to come to this.
Yeah, you definitely right. I robbed, stole and killed for them cats. I stuck with them through thick and thin. Everybody else was droppin' off and I stepped my game up when it was time. I was doing all I was supposed to be doin’, but they weren’t feeling that way about me. So, yeah, it was kinda hard. I put tears in my eyes on the situation. We grew up with each other. When I left them in New York and got on a plane, I was like, “Man, what am I gonna do now?” But God grabbed me and hooked me up. He held me down. Now I gotta start back over ’cause Paul and Juicy is puttin’ bad names out on me to the major record labels. I got Universal talking about something. I got Jay-Z and them talking about something. 50 [Cent] even said he would fuck with me and put me on something. A lot of rappers like Kanye West who will get down with me. A lot of folks always wanted me on their album. They wanted me to do their dance in their videos. But Paul and Juicy would tell them some lie.
What exactly were they saying?
When I first left them, Ludacris told me he sent a song to be on his last album, or the one before that, but [Paul and Juicy] sent the beat back with just them two on it. Young Buck told me about it—D4L, Ying Yang Twins—a lot of folks told me they were holdin’ me back. I didn’t wanna be talkin’ like this in no interview, but this is the only way I’m gonna be able to let folks know I can do what I can do as a rapper. In order to win the game of life, you have to make the right decisions. That’s what I had to do when I found out Paul and them weren’t lovin’ me like I was lovin’ them. They were my bosses and were supposed to make sure I was straight, Koop was straight, Boo was straight… but we makin’ so much money and our bosses are stealin’. I done went the wrong way too many times. Now I’m able to go the right way.
Was there a final straw for you that made you leave?
Half of Most Known Unknown was my shit. Half of that shit was on the Crunchy Black album, From Me To You. They asked me [to use the songs] for the new Three 6 Mafia album because we had one more album with Sony. They told me, “Crunchy, we’ll do your album after this new Three 6 Mafia album.” So I was trying to show them I was a team player, so I said, okay. But then they started saying, “We’re workin’ on the next Three 6 Mafia album now.” So they let me know my album is gonna get cut out again. I figured they were trying to make me leave the group. Another reason [I left] is—we were on the road doing shows, they would get in their vans, ride out of the city and then call me and tell me I gotta get my own ride to shows. I used to ride with Paul all the time. So [now] I gotta rent me a car, find a good driver to drive halfway across the fuckin’ world to do shows. And they would wait until they were gone to do that. Then they had to pay me my backend on Most Known Unknown. I was supposed to get somethin’ like $150 G's and I found out I was supposed to get more than that. Then, they tell me I owe them money, $50 thousand for a lawyer and all that shit. It might sound small to a lot of folks, but you would know what it is if you signed with Paul. Put yourself in my shoes if you don't feel what I’m saying. Be with their ass for a couple of years and see what they do to you.