Three 6 Mafia’s 2005 LP, Most Known Unknown, stands as the group’s best-selling release, and while it shows the collective down to three from the original six (Lord Infamous being in jail, Koopsta Knicca getting kicked out for being in jail too often, and Gangsta Boo having departed after their previous release), it still stands as a pinnacle of the Southern rap game. In their original review of the album, Pitchfork referred to it as “impossibly thick and dark,” and it’s hard to come up with a better summation of the group’s sound. Going all the way back to their definitive 2000 single, “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” Three 6 Mafia has always managed to sound like the most menacingly laid-back guys you’re ever likely to encounter.
After an intro cut, the album kicks off with its lead single — and, arguably, its best track, “Stay Fly,” featuring Eightball, Young Buck and MJG. The vinyl reissue actually allows Three 6 Mafia’s strongest tracks to lead off each side — “Poppin’ My Collar,” “Pussy Got Ya Hooked,” and bonus track “Got It 4 Sale” all lead their respective sides, and are anchored by cuts like “Swervin’,” “Side 2 Side,” and the unfortunately misogynistic, yet still banging, “Let’s Plan a Robbery.”
Today, the entirety of Most Known Unknown seems like it’s angled a little more toward the club crowd. “Side 2 Side” is an absolute floor-filler, and the back-to-back flavor of “Stay Fly” and “Swervin’” still requires windows down and volume up, over a decade later. Taken as a whole, Three 6 Mafia’s sound really hit a high note on this album, and despite clocking in at a robust 80 minutes, it invites repeated spins.
Most Known Unknown is evenly mastered, but it could stand to bump a little more. Everything’s clean and clear, so you can crank the ever-loving hell out of it, though. It’s surprisingly crisp for a splatter pressing, and that’s really becoming a hallmark of Omerta’s releases. For as much color as they throw into their reissues — be it single, splatter, half, or tri-color — there’s been none of the expected hiss or crackle in any of the four albums, thus far.
The Omerta Inc. reissue of Most Known Unknown is an absolutely gorgeous package. It comes in a textured sleeve which reproduces the original album art, but the texture and matte finish add a little something extra to the whole thing. When you open up the sleeve and take out the LPs, though, that’s when things get really impressive. The promo photos of the deluxe vinyl version — limited to 300 copies, individually hand numbered in gold pen — on 180-gram purple splatter looked nice, but the product is so amazing in person, it’s hard to do it justice. It’s one of the best-looking splatters I’ve ever seen. Really, I’m half-convinced I keep spinning it because I just want to look at it on the platter.
Most Known Unknown is available on vinyl from Omerta Inc.