Sippin’ Syrup with Marvin Gaye, the Dirty South way

Science dropped by Martini & Jopparelli. Mar-16-2007

During the 90′s, most hip hop headz from Europe, like us, were focused on east coast rap. The east coast was on fire, putting out one gem after another, so it was natural not giving a f#*k about southern rap music. In the SOURCE magazine, southern artists ads appeared mostly in the last pages…I remember we used to laugh at those awful album covers, full of diamonds, bit*#es and (fake) pimps.


But silently, the south coast was evolving its own sound in the underground, with bootleg mixtapes and live shows. The 3-6 mafia were the mixtape gods in Memphis back then, selling thousands of tapes in their neighbourhood.

In the late 90′s, as the east coast started its decline (and DJ Premier started producing dozens of songs using the same drums…terribly boring), i started checking out southern rap for curiosity (thanks to some suggestions from my personal music guru, djmp45), and, surprisingly to me, i found out some very good music. Very different from the New York sound, but, yes, it was dope!


Hip hop flava in the south is much closer to 80′s old school: 808 drums, synth basselines, sharp samples, immediate lyrics, focusing more on sounding dope rather than spittin complicated rhymes. It is music for clubs and car stereos, produced specifcally to sound good when played loud in fat-ass speakers. If you play it in your cheap home hi-fi, and you don’t have a sub-woofer, it is just not the same.

“Sippin’ on some syrup” is 3-6 mafia’s most famous song. Is a song about, …well…, it is about sippin codeine-based cough syroup to get stoned. This unusual (and dangerous, i imagine) way to get high is very common in some communities in the USA. Codeine’s narcothic effect gives you a slowed-down perception of the world around you, and most pepole use to listen to rap music played at half speed when they’re on syroup. (“screwed up” music, named after Dj Screw, the inventor of this crazy sound: he curiously died for codeine abuse. The world is strange sometimes. If you’re interested, check the whole story here) Southern artist use to release a screwed version of their songs, which are in fact produced specifically for being screwed. “Sippin’ on some syrup” is one of this songs… & the contribution if UGK takes this song to an all-time classic level, even if you listen it at normal speed…….


Susrprisingly to me, i discovered that producer DJ Paul stole the first bars from a beautiful song by the great Marvin Gaye. I didn’t expect this, i thought the track was made from scratch by Dj Paul with a synth piano (when high on syrup of course). But after all, this is still hip hop: big songs use big samples, that’s no surprise.

Listen Marvin Gaye “Is That Enough”. What a masterpiece!


Most 3-6 mafia productions have a strong hypnotic, repetitive, trippy groove (they even called their label “Hypnotize Minds”), an attitude i find very interesting. And i like it of course, even if -since i don’t drink syroup- i listen only the normal versions, not the screwed ones….

Listen Three Six Mafia’s “Sippin On Some syrup” in the album “When The Smoke Clears”a dope album, and a good way to approach southern rap music if you never heard it…


(epilogue)…Nowadays the south has gone mainstream, 3-6 Mafia won an Oscar prize (!!!), and the dirty south movement has been many times on the cover of the Source Magazine! A famous issue of The Vibe had the magazine logo iced out with diamonds. Time has changed again. And the dirty south has lost some freshness too… What will be the next sound in hip hop? Any suggestions?

No Responses to “Sippin’ Syrup with Marvin Gaye, the Dirty South way”

  1. Good article, I think that it’s a good thing that hip-hop has got so many differents faces. I f it all sounded the same hh could have died.

  2. Antonio says:

    Premier is NEVER boring!

    As for the south, some Willie Hutch-sampled Three 6 Mafia (and Project Pat) songs are dope, but in general I find the Dirty Dirty quite uninteresting. Atlanta is crap, for example.
    Texas is a bit different, though. Devin and UGK are cool.

    The next sound? Hyphy, maybe?

  3. djmp45 says:

    dirty south got really boring lately, especially with the lil john stuff….barely listenable.. ithought the next thing will be grime…but it isnt…i think the next thing will be going back to the beginning

  4. joppa says:

    “premier is never boring”, “atlanta is crap”:

    come on antonio, we don’t need any fundamentalism here! you can do better.

    Each musical style, each label, each town, each artist has dope songs and wack songs. The fun is in separating what is dope from what is not, judging only by one criteria: our personal taste. Not by the artist name or the town he comes from.

    Confronting personal tastes about music, giving suggestion about a tune or a rare album to check out, this kind of things are always welcome here.

  5. Marty says:

    Atlanta is crap: what about the first 3 Outkast?
    Atliens is one of my favourite album ever.
    Now they are shit, but Premier is quiet shit too.
    I remember i saw him live in Modena back in the 1996 with Guru, Jeru and Afu, i still remember Code of the street, what a DJ back then!!. But today is like an old star who reproduce himself and float on mediocrity. This is really sad
    And what is even worst is that all around people keep on talking about him like he is still the man. Premier is the idol of all the new generation of Hip Hoper, nothing wrong with that, but he has not done anything remarkable in ages. Is like a myth and you can not talk bad about him. But this is not the way i judge music.

    Another good example of Atlanta music:

    By the way some other Atlanta nice stuff: Swizz Beatz!!!, Organized Noize!!!!!!!!, youngbloodz, jermaine dupri, Ludacris (the first Ludacris at least), cool breeze among others.

  6. southern hospitality my ass says:

    premier is from Texas

  7. Antonio says:

    premier is from Texas

    and swizz beats is from NY (and he is definitely crap).

    I was half joking when I said that Premier is NEVER boring…
    Anyway, Preem defined the East Coast sound, and he still does. Maybe you don’t like him, but don’t say he hasn’t done anything remarkable for ages. His catalogue speaks for itself…

    And what is even worst is that all around people keep on talking about him like he is still the man.
    But he STILL is the man. The beats for Termanology, Byata and Lil Vic are fire. He is not the most commercial producer around, but tell me someone else better than him now…

    To quote djmp45 “dirty south got really boring lately, especially with the lil john stuff….barely listenable… “. Is this rephrasing better?

  8. joppa says:

    OK, if someone can suggest one or more song made by Premier after the year 2000 which are as good as “code of the street”, then you are welcome!!

    I’d be glad to discover such new gems from Premo! Seriously, it would be great.

    But they must be at least as dope as “come clean”, not less!

    As i said, this kind of suggestion are welcome!!!!

  9. Antonio says:

    Here you are (off the top of my head, I am sure there is a lot more):

    Royce the 5’9 – Boom (Classic)
    Freddie Foxxx – Paine
    Kool G Rap – First Nigga (Classic)
    Kanye West, Nas, KRS One and Rakim – Classic, Better Than I Ever Been (strongly suggested)
    Byata – Byata Is The Illest
    Nas – 2nd Childhood off Stillmatic
    Non Phixion – Rock Stars (Classic)
    ODB – Pop Shots
    Poet – Poet Has Come
    Lil Vic – The Exorcist
    Big Daddy Kane – Any Kind of Way
    Poet – Bang To Dis
    Royce the 5’9 – Hip Hop
    Agallah – NY Ryder Music
    AZ – The Come Up
    Craig David f. Mos Def – Seven Days Remix
    AZ – The Format
    Heather B – Steady Rockin’
    Ras Kass – Goldyn Chyld (superb!)
    Termanology -Watch How It Go Down
    Xzibit – What a Mess


  10. ill-mago says:

    Antonio, no disrespect, but don’t you notice that 90% of the songs you have listed have got the same drum pattern?

    I miss the time when he produced ‘The sun rises in the east’ and ‘Hard to Earn’, and you couldn’t find 2 songs on the same album with the same drums!

    Not to mention that already used and abused scratch cutting in the choruses…

    It is a fact that his creativity (as it happens to all human being) after many years in the game, is quite elapsed.

    Anyway, I am not saying those are all bad songs. I would have put in the one he did for CNN.

    But his career is slowly collapsing, and the fact that he is producing for Christina Aguilera is just another clue…

  11. joppa says:

    Blah…it’s only my taste, but those new Premier songs cannot match with the classic Premier ones.

    One for all: “boom” instrumental is a clone of “nas is like” which was already boring 8 years ago.
    And Mago is right, listening those scratch/cut choruses makes me sick! He is really abusing that trick. Not to talk about the drums…you cannot make dozens of albums and mixtapes with the same beat! Great producers don’t do so. Marley Marl never repeated a drum, at least not for 50 songs!!!. He never used the same type of scratching over and over, nor the same kind of samples. How many times Premier used a string section in the same way of “Nas is Like”? countless.

    It’s like comparing the red hot chili peppers of “freaky styley” and now…..they like MTV zombies

    I’m sure if you try playing these songs in a club, and then you play “come clean”….. let’s see how the crowd reacts…. no comparision.

    So, if someone’s interested, my selection goes to the early Premier. I suggest to concentrate on what he did in the 90′s…why lose time on recycled beats? Go for the originals!!

  12. Antonio says:

    Hey, everyone has got different tastes.
    In my opinion, what you call boring is just style.
    The scratched chorus is Preem’s trademark: if you ask me, not enough people use it…
    As for the rest, Marley Marl used the same sloppy (unquantised) tambourines countless times: it was his style.
    Three 6 uses the same chorus all the time. Style.
    Anyway, could you name a producer that did better than Premier in the last 5 years?

  13. joppa says:

    Antonio, you’re right about personal tastes, which of course I don’t want to discuss, and i think we came to a conclusion.

    I’m afraid i cannot name a better producer in the last 5 years…and that’s the reason why right now i’m listening mainly old soul tunes from the 60′s, i find much more creativity and inspiration there!

    I think most of us (long time hip-hop fans) are waiting for the next big revolution in hip hop, like when de la soul came out…a new movement with style and originality

    (and yes, 3-6 mafia are repetitive too, that’s no doubt. as i said at the end of my post, the dirty south has lost some freshness too. most dirty south hits nowadays are MTV garbage.)

  14. ill-mago says:

    K. West, Just Blaze, 9th wonder, Madlib, J dee, Hi tek, Dame Grease, Scott storch, Stoupe, Hitmakers…
    all for sure better than Premier after 2k… My personal opinion!

    I’ll have a post on 9th Wonder and his Little Brother project soon…

    And Joppa… I agree but Nas is Like is a classic!
    ok maybe more for the lyrics than the beat…

    ‘Freedom or Jail, clips inserted, a baby’s being born, the same time a man is murdered, the beginning and end…’

  15. Antonio says:

    K. West, Just Blaze, 9th wonder, Madlib, J dee, Hi tek, Dame Grease, Scott storch, Stoupe, Hitmakers…
    all for sure better than Premier after 2k… My personal opinion!

    9th wonder, Hi tek, Dame Grease, Scott storch, Stoupe, Hitmakers…

    Are you serious? The people you mentioned recycle themselves more than Preem… What about 9th Wonder’s drum patterns (copy of Premier’s)?

  16. ill-mago says:

    partially I agree Antonio, Premier didn’t inspired only 9th wonder but all of them if you ask me.
    but I think each of them gave something new and original to the game after 2k.
    Premier hasn’t simply added something new to the game, he created the game as it is now, and that is the reason why we all love him, but those were the 90′s…


  17. Antonio says:

    I completely agree, but I think Primo still holds his own…
    I think (but this should be clear by now) some of the beats he made after 2001 are his best ever.
    And by the way, all the producers you mentioned are very good (although I am not a big fan of Grease, Storch and Heatmakerz).
    So no disrespect, I was just saying that every producer tends to use the same style ever and ever. The only one who could switch between different styles and still be himself was J Dilla, maybe…