DJ Paul On Lord Infamous’ Legacy And What He Meant To Hip-Hop
On Friday (December 20), Lord Infamous, who was the co-founding member of Three 6 Mafia, died from a heart attack at his mother’s home in Memphis, Tenn. at the age of 40. As the hip-hop community mourned the death of Infamous (born Ricky Dunigan), XXL got an opportunity to speak with DJ Paul just hours after his half-brother passed away. During our conversation late last night, Paul spoke about Lord Infamous’ legacy, what was going through his mind upon hearing about Infamous’ death and what’s next for Da Mafia 6ix.–Emmanuel C.M.
XXL: Take me through what happened.
DJ Paul: Basically, his girlfriend talked about going to his mom’s house. She was going to come about one in the morning, late last night in the a.m. She was going to come back and get him in the morning; I guess she was going to work. She was going to come back and get him in the morning because they was going to get their new place. He told her he was tired and was going to lie down. So she was like, “Just make sure you be ready in the morning, we got to be there at 9 o’clock.” He was like, “Yeah OK, I’m just going to lie down.” I guess he was fixing himself something to eat and put his head down on the table and she had left. Then when his momma came, that’s how she found him. Still lying with his head on his lap on the table. He had died from a heart attack in his sleep.
Were there any signs?
Nah, there wasn’t, but you know, years ago he had a small heart attack, a small stroke and I guess he just had another.
How did you learn of his death?
They called me. His girlfriend and his mom.
What was going through your mind when you heard of his death?
I didn’t really believe it at first. They was like,“Rick died.” I was like, “Ricky who?” I don’t know but one Ricky, I wasn’t prepared to hear that. But at the same time I was kind of prepared because he was talking about it lately. He told me like two weeks ago. And I don’t know if the doctors told him this for real or he was fucking with me. He was like, “I got like four months to live, doctor told me because of my kidneys started back up from the stroke.” I was like, “Get out of here.”
He was telling his momma last week that he wanted to get right with everybody that he ever made mad in his life. But he never made anybody mad because everybody loved him. People who had hate me or Juicy or whatever, they always loved Lord Infamous. He was the nicest dude in the world. If you didn’t have clothes, he would give you his shirt off his back, literally. He would take it off and give it to you on the spot. He didn’t care about money he just loved people and really loved kids. He loved anybody that wasn’t doing well. He used to give homeless people money, he made us pull the tour bus over and give money. He didn’t really care about money like that or material stuff period.
Lately, he was so happy about everything that was going on like the regroup of the crew. That was his idea. He fought for that with me. He was like, “We got to do this.” It was supposed to be just me and him bringing back Come With Me 2 Hell series. But he wanted to do the group thing first, with the whole group. He always looking out for other people before himself. He always lived like that. But lately he be talking about death and this and that. I was like maybe he just excited about the group and it’s almost like its too good to be true to him. He would be talking about how excited he was. Then this shit happened.
When was the last time you saw him?
It was two weeks ago, all of us did a show together in Knoxville. We were going to be together this Friday to do a show and a couple videos. He was fine at the show.
Do you have any knowledge of any major lingering effects after the 2010 stroke incident?
I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I flew in from town, he lives in Memphis and I don’t. I flew in and he seemed like he was all right. He just had to walk with a cane. He got his speech back together; he was getting over the whole cane situation. He started to dance on stage, wildn’ just like usual. But when he regularly walks, he just walks with a cane. You can tell he can walk without it but just to be on the safe side, he walks with it. He came all the way back after that. If you seen our last video, “Go Hard,” he was all over the place. He had got back well from the stroke. He was telling me that the doctor told him he may have kidney problems.
What do y’all have planned?
We’re going to go with the same plan. Still continue to promote the record and the mixtape we just put out. I still got a lot of songs that he did for the next album. Still bringing that out in March 2014. That’s what he would want. He fought for this group to be together, he was happy we were back together because all of us grew up together. Still bring out the Come with Me 2 Hell re-mastered mixtapes that me and him did when we was young before Three 6 Mafia’s debut album came out. I had even announced it on Instagram four days ago like I was going to put those out. Everyone was so excited. He’s a legend and an icon to people. I’m still going to re-master it and send the money to his kids. He has three boys. So I’m going to just split it up evenly three ways with them.
Has a funeral date been set yet?
No, I’m going to do all that tomorrow once they send his body to the funeral home.
Are there plans for a public viewing for fans?
It’s on me if I decide to do it or not. I just got to decide if I want to do that. If I want to just put it out there. People are weird these days, I don’t want nobody fucking with his grave or doing no stupid shit. I just have to decide if I want to do all that.
What did Lord Infamous mean to hip-hop? What was his legacy?
He was one of the creators of crunk. We always say that the Three 6 Mafia created crunk, which we did it ain’t no question about it. He was one of the ones that created it with us: Me, him and Juicy. He was in the beginning. He was one of the creators of crunk and the whole dark sound music with 808s and repetitive hooks that we did. All the drugs and the stuff that we talked about before rappers were even ready to do it.
Pimp C used to say, “Y’all been talking about them drugs, all these other rappers rhyming do drugs but they don’t talk about like how y’all.” When I came to him, I played “Sippin’ On Some Syrup,” he was like, “What this song talking about? What? Y’all finna to go there with it.” And I was like, “Yeah.” Then he said, “That’s why I like y’all, these other niggas be scared to talk about that shit.” The whole crunk thing … the whole sound of the dirty South. It ain’t even the dirty South anymore—it’s nationwide. They play it everywhere. He helped create the sound that’s going on in hip-hop. He’s one of the reasons why hip-hop still real—him, me and Juicy.
And the old tongue-twisting flow, that’s where I mostly credit him with because back when we had the stupid little beef back in the day with [Thugs-n-Harmony]. We was all kids, Bone didn’t really steal our style. But they were from the Midwest where the Midwest tongue-twist [came from]. They didn’t steal our style, I don’t think they did. All of us just had the same idea because Twista was out tongue-twisting. He probably one of the first people I heard doing it. But Lord Infamous did it different. Twista was more like real fast and kept the same flow with it. Lord Infamous had a different type of tongue-twisting. For one, our beats were slower and different and he would mix different styles around the tongue-twist.
That’s why we named our first album Mystic Stylez because we like to put different styles on different verses to keep the song interesting. Basically they all kind of came from him. If you listen to Project Pat’s album and he switching different styles on his different verses, Lord Infamous was out before him, he was the one in the group who came with different flows, which made others in the group come with different flows. Me and Juicy were the beat guy and the hook guy. Lord Infamous actually had a beat or two he made a baseline and I just filled the drums, but he was the flower of the group.
Can you give me your earliest memory of Lord Infamous before Three 6 Mafia?
Some of the first memories that stuck out are when we were forming the rap group, just me and him in 1989 before Three 6 Mafia. We called ourselves The Serial Killers. We made an EP and it did pretty good too. We used to go to this DJ named DJ Just Born. We used to pay him like $35 to rent out the studio. We didn’t have any equipment. I had my momma’s record player that I used to sneak and scratch on when she leaves.
So me and him would get all the ideas together, we thought we was N.W.A. We just had bandannas wrapped around our heads and this and that. We get all the ideas together. I be like, “On this part of the hook I’m going to bring this record or I’m going to scratch this. On this part of the hook I’m going to bring this record and scratch this.” I had a bag of cassette tapes with different music. A big ass bag of shit with just cassette tapes and records and raps and got my dad to drop us off at Lord’s house. My dad would give us the $35, we go in there, record the song, come back home and listen to this shit all day and all night. And go in the bedroom and roll joints and take them to school the next day and sell them [Laughs]. Wild days trying to get that money.