The Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Verzuz as Scored by an Unbiased Music Editor

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The Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Verzuz as Scored by an Unbiased Music Editor

Last night, I awoke from my old woman slumber at 10 p.m. to tune into the Verzuz battle between Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. This was announced at the beginning of the pandemic when Verzuz quickly went from an Instagram Live innovation into a full-blown cultural phenomenon, but it was never heard from again. Now, over a year later, the hip-hop gods threw me a bone (heh) and it was formally announced.

Before we get into the round-by-round of the battle, let’s get some things out of the way. The headline may fool you, but I am pretty biased as a huge fan of Southern rap, but I try to approach this as unbiased as possible. I also have a huge issue with the Verzuz. It is an unfair match. The two groups were compared a lot in their prime for their dark take on hip-hop, but the odds have always been in Three 6 Mafia’s favor because of their amount of mainstream hits, one of which won an Academy Award. If I had to choose a better opponent, Bone Thugs would have done much better against Tha Dogg Pound or Crucial Conflict (both of whom they had beef with). Based on their influence, Three 6 could’ve definitely held their own against Wu-Tang Clan.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, famously discovered by NWA’s Eazy E, was a cheat code for a perfect rap song in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, collaborating with everyone from Tupac and Biggie, to Mariah Carey and A$AP Ferg. Meanwhile, Three 6 Mafia, aside from making history as the first rap group to win an Academy Award, steadily grew from one of Memphis’ most beloved underground groups into one of the most influential rap groups in history. Their songs have been sampled by everyone from Cardi B to Justice, and both Juicy J and DJ Paul have become some of the most in demand producers of the past two decades.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Round 1: Three 6 Mafia – “Who Run It” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “No Surrender”

Bone Thugs rejoiced when they got to go last, but Three 6 came out swinging with their 2000 club hit “Who Run It.” DJ Paul’s infectious chorus feels more like a warning than anything: “These bitches ain’t runnin’ shit but y’all mouth/ Cause the first hater step, the first hater get tossed out.”

That’s not to say “No Surrender” isn’t a good song, and it is an underrated gem from Bone Thugs’ 1994 debut EP Creepin on ah Come Up, but it’s clear the vibes were mismatched.

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 2: Three 6 Mafia – “Tear Da Club Up ’97” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Body Rott”

It is at this point I realized Bone Thugs doesn’t stand a chance. This song famously got Three 6 Mafia banned in 17 states because people took the song seriously, much to the dismay of club owners everywhere. Alongside fellow pioneers such as Lil Jon, Memphis rap groups such as Three 6 Mafia paved the way for what is now known as “crunk music.” “Tear Da Club Up ’97” is rap history.

“Body Rott” came out the same year as “Tear Da Club Up ’97,” and it is one of the group’s more popular tracks with its G-funk elements perfect for cruising down the street. Therein lies its main problem: you can’t slap someone in the face with this playing in the background like you can with “Tear Da Club Up ’97.” Yes, that is my criteria this round.

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 3: Three 6 Mafia – “Hit A Muthafucka” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Look into My Eyes”

I forgot to mention that Three 6 Mafia also got banned for this song too, and you can probably guess why. Once again, the vibes are mismatched despite me loving “Look into My Eyes.” The somber tone shouldn’t mislead you, because it’s a brutal song about killing someone until their body can’t be sewn back together, but does it bump in the club?

This one I will give to Three 6 yet again, but it was close.

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 4: Three 6 Mafia feat. UGK and Project Pat – “Sippin On Some Syrup” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Buddah Lovaz”

I don’t smoke or drink lean, so I can’t weigh in on this round as much as I’d like to. However, I feel like if I smoked, I would rather have Bone Thugs on. If there is one thing that they always got right, it was that hazy, chill smoking music perfect for a lazy night in with your friends. Bone made the right call whipping this one out.

Also, rest in peace Pimp C.

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Then, a fight broke out. Bizzy Bone is the first person in history to make a Verzuz go to commercial.

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (because I feel like combined, they can pack a mean punch)

Round 5: Three 6 Mafia – “Azz & Tittiez” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Days of Our Lives”

Now this is just bad. Bizzy Bone is now absent following the fight. How do you go from a song about ass and titties to a song about struggling and hustling? At this point, it does reveal a flaw in Three 6’s plan so far: you can only go so far with the club hits. I feel if they brought out a deep cut like “In Da Game” or “Body Parts,” it would’ve been harder.

As much as I want to say it’s a draw, I’ll have to give it to Bone Thugs.

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 6: Three 6 Mafia feat. Lil’ Flip- “Ridin’ Spinners” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony feat. Swizz Beatz – “Bump In The Trunk”

Three 6 brought out the freestyle king Lil’ Flip. At this point, it turns into a flex with who could bring out the most unexpected guest. However, Bone Thugs gets the slight edge with that infectious hook provided by Swizz Beatz (who was not in attendance but had a lot to say in the Instagram Live chat).

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 7: Gangsta Boo – “Where Dem Dollas At” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Resurrection (Paper, Paper)”

As one of the biggest advocates for everyone to listen to Gangsta Boo’s incredible solo debut Enquiring Minds, I peed a little bit when she started playing “Where Them Dollaz At.” It is a brilliant and arrogant display of female supremacy that I am here for, and I love that Three 6 Mafia gave a platform to her and La Chat in a male-dominated genre to shake things up a bit.

Bone Thugs started to pick up the pace a bit with the gorgeous “Resurrection (Paper, Paper)” (seriously, listen to those vocals in the hook), but it was not enough of a match for the magnetic energy of Gangsta Boo.

Winner: Gangsta Boo/Three 6 Mafia

Round 8: Three 6 Mafia – “Poppin’ My Collar” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony feat. Eazy E – “Foe Tha Love of $”

Bizzy has returned with an apology, and now the show can go on. Despite pulling out one of their most iconic singles. Three 6 couldn’t square up to the power of Bone Thugs’ “Foe Tha Love of $” featuring their mentor Eazy E. It’s the perfect West Coast rap song, oozing with swagger and not a lick of anxiety as Eazy E casually raps about hiding from the cops.

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 9: Three 6 Mafia feat. Bow Wow and Project Pat – “Side 2 Side” VS. Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie Bone – “Ridin’”

I am now rethinking my allegiance to Three 6 Mafia, because I do enjoy Chamillionaire. Three 6 Mafia made this song specifically for the dudes in the club who don’t dance but want to be included, which is very nice of them. All you do is fold your arms and twist your body from side to side.

However, Chamillionaire’s generation-spanning hit “Ridin’” is a worthy opponent, even earning a Weird Al parody. The only thing going against it is that I feel like so many people forgot Krayzie was even on the song, despite his incredible spitfire verse.

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 10: Juicy J feat. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz – “Bandz A Make Her Dance” VS. Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz feat. Mystikal and Krayzie Bone- “I Don’t Give A…”

If you couldn’t tell from my previous criteria which determines whether you can slap someone to a song or not, I am a bit of a crunk aficionado. I do not deny the absolutely incredible solo output of Juicy J, much of which I was unable to fully appreciate because I was too young to go to the club. Juicy J also brought out Lil Wayne, which is just unfair. Wayne did sound a little rough unfortunately.

Which brings us to Lil Jon, the crunk king. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song got him banned in a few clubs. The sheer explosion of energy that Lil Jon brings is enough for a win. Sure, Juicy J can make a song for the ladies. Sometimes we just need a little toxicity.

Winner: Lil Jon/ Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 11: Project Pat feat. La Chat and Three 6 Mafia- “Chickenhead” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony- “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”

Project Pat actually originally came out to his verse on Drake’s “Knife Talk” before transitioning into “Chickenhead.” Project Pat, who has arguably the best solo output as a Three 6 Mafia-adjacent act, clearly had it in the bag with his infectious, albeit slightly misogynistic club hit until….

“It’s the thuggish ruggish boooooooone.”

That’s all that needs to be said.

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 12: Juicy J – “Zip and a Double Cup” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Budsmokers Only”

Juicy J and Lex Luger were such a dynamic duo, and although sometimes it can get tiresome to hear Juicy J profess his love for prescription drugs, this song perfectly captures that special era from 2011-2014 (which Lex Luger is hugely responsible for). “Budsmokers Only” is no match for Lex Luger’s power.

Winner: Juicy J

Round 13: UGK feat. Three 6 Mafia – “Int’l Players Anthem” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony feat. Tupac – “Thug Luv”

I don’t know why it took this long for Bone Thugs to bring out the heat, then again you can’t start with the killers first. Between Three 6 Mafia remixing what is arguably the first “hot boy summer” song “Int’l Players Anthem” and Bone Thugs flexing the fact that they’ve done a song with both Biggie AND Tupac, this is a pretty even match.

Winner: It’s a tie. Fight me.

Round 14: Duke Deuce feat. Lil Jon, Juicy J and Project Pat – “Crunk Ain’t Dead – Remix” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “East 1999”

For those who knew me in my Twitter days, I counted down the days until Duke Deuce released the remix for his viral hit “Crunk Ain’t Dead.” That song was my life. Duke Deuce is Memphis’ lovable teddy bear with his incredible dance moves and his revitalization of crunk music for a modern audience. It’s an incredible remix, featuring Project Pat, Lil Jon and Juicy J, all pioneers of the genre he owes much of his career to.

However, Bone Thugs made this difficult by playing my favorite song “East 1999,” featuring an infectious sing-along at the end. You’re going to hate me but….

Winner: Tie. You can find my email if you’re mad about it.

Round 15: Wiz Khalifa feat. Juicy J – “Errday” VS. The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Notorious Thugs”

I am one of the few who never really enjoyed Wiz Khalifa, despite having a deep appreciation for his features and run from about 2011-2015. However, Juicy J and Wiz are a hell of a pair. That being said, Bone brought out the heat with “Notorious Thugs,” featuring that ear worm of an intro “It’s Bone and Biggie, Biggie.”

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 16: Three 6 Mafia feat. Young Buck and 8ball and MJG – “Stay Fly” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Mo’murda”

I pride myself on being a few things. Being a Young Buck stan in 2021 is one of them. “Stay Fly” is a safe pick, but it aged well for a reason. “Mo’murda” has some of my favorite lyricism and wordplay from Bone Thugs, and that “Mo murda, mo murda come again” hook still sends chills down my spine. But, as the sole member of the Young Buck fan club…..

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 17: Three 6 Mafia – “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Fried Day”

God dammit. Three 6 Mafia brought out Terrence Howard to reprise his role as DJay the pimp from the film Hustle & Flow, and Howard is rapping like he never got out of that role. I tuned out for Bone Thugs, just basking in the glory that is the fact that they brought out Terrence Howard. Now if only he performed “Whoop That Trick.”

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 18: Katy Perry feat. Juicy J- “Dark Horse” VS. Mariah Carey feat. Krayzie Bone and Wishbone- “Breakdown”

Zack Fox said it best in his now-deleted tweet from last night: “Absolutely not.” I will say, the fact that Juicy J can boast that he has a song with Katy Perry is incredible, and Bone Thugs matched the energy with a collaboration with another goddess Mariah Carey. Neither brought out their respective songstresses, possibly because Carey is still defrosting in time for Christmas and Katy Perry is enjoying motherhood. However, I bet Perry was at home with a sly smile on her face, waiting until her child is old enough so she can explain that she made a song with Juicy J and Kanye West on the same album.

Now, I do love Mariah and “Breakdown,” and it’s one of the sexiest songs of the ‘90s. This is once again a battle of the vibes. However, I will give Bone this edge because at the end of the day, Juicy takes a backseat on “Dark Horse” while Carey embodies the West Coast sleaze so beautifully.

Winner: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Round 19: Three 6 Mafia – “Half on a Sack” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Weed Song”

These two I would consider a bit more of a deep cut for the two groups, and they both capture the stoner vibe pretty damn well. At this point, you can tell the two were losing some steam and I would’ve rather this round was cut since I think we had this figured out in round 12. That being said, I will have to give this round to Three 6, as I feel “Weed Song” can get repetitive. It comes down to pickiness.

Winner: Three 6 Mafia

Round 20: Tear Da Club Up Thugs – “Slob On My Nob” VS. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Tha Crossroads”

The battle of two cultural phenomenons: the incredibly misogynistic (and ridiculously catchy) “Slob On My Nob” versus an ode to fallen comrades with “Tha Crossroads.” It’s the duality of man at its finest. This final round shows that the two groups, despite their similarities and differences, do what they do so well. Three 6 Mafia’s keen ear for hooks and club bangers that transcend generations fit where Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s introspective, word-heavy interrogations of mortality do not. They are two pieces of the same puzzle, meeting in the middle as two hugely influential groups.

So you know what? Screw it.

Winner: Tie

FINAL SCORE: Three 6 Mafia: 12 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: 11

WINNER: Three 6 Mafia

This was a far closer battle than I anticipated. I hope you enjoyed my unnecessary opinions, and anyone who wants to join the Young Buck fan club is welcome to email me. Till the next Verzuz! Have a happy holiday.


Jade Gomez is Paste’s assistant music editor, dog mom, Southern rap aficionado and compound sentence enthusiast. She has no impulse control and will buy vinyl that she’s too afraid to play or stickers she will never stick.