(From left) Jordan Houston (aka Juicy J), Paul Beauregard (DJ Paul) and Cedric Coleman (Frayser Boy) of Three 6 Mafia hold their Oscar statues after winning best original song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," March 6, 2006. (Photo/Steve Granitz-WireImage)
(From left) Jordan Houston (aka Juicy J), Paul Beauregard (DJ Paul) and Cedric Coleman (Frayser Boy) of Three 6 Mafia hold their Oscar statues after winning best original song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," March 6, 2006. (Photo/Steve Granitz-WireImage)

Rap group Three 6 Mafia arrives on TikTok with 2 videos of Hasidic Jews

Three 6 Mafia is best known for its Academy Award-winning song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” which the rap group wrote for the 2005 film “Hustle & Flow.” To TikTok users, however, the group is probably better known for “Half on a Sack,” a profanity-heavy track about getting high on a tour bus that inspired a viral dance trend on the social media platform this summer.

As part of the trend, people dance in sync with computer-generated characters from the 2014 animated film “Penguins of Madagascar.” (You need to see it to understand, but be warned about explicit language before clicking.) To date, more than 390,000 videos using a piece of the song as a soundtrack have been uploaded to TikTok.

For the first time last week, Three 6 Mafia — a duo in its current iteration consisting of Juicy J and DJ Paul — posted to its official TikTok account. But the post wasn’t to promote a new song or join the dance trend, as artists such as Lizzo have done when their songs take off on TikTok.

Instead, the Memphis, Tennessee-based group (or a member of its team) posted a video of Hasidic Jews seemingly dancing to one of Three 6 Mafia’s older songs, “Stay Fly.” The fedora-wearing men dance in a banquet hall around two men on a wooden pallet that is lifted into the air by a forklift just as the chorus of the song hits. (Again, you need to see it to understand.) In the video caption, Three 6 Mafia wrote, “ITS A TENNESSY THANG.… WE IN HERE TIKTOK.”

@three6mafia ITS A TENNESSY THANG…. WE IN HERE TIKTOK #three6mafia ♬ Stay Fly (feat. Young Buck & 8Ball & MJG) – Three 6 Mafia

The commenters were impressed. “Need this at my wedding,” wrote one. Another wrote, “I’m tryin to party with them!” Others marveled at the fact that one of the men in the video is recording the proceedings on a flip phone, often referred to as a “kosher phone” in Hasidic circles because it can’t access the internet.

Three 6 Mafia followed up that post with another video of a different group of Hasidic Jews. In the second video, hundreds of men appear to jump up and down to the beat of “Half on a Sack.”

On Monday, J. attempted to contact DJ Paul to ask why Three 6 Mafia decided to launch its TikTok account with two videos of Hasidic Jews. He did not immediately respond, though the second video disappeared from the TikTok account shortly after J. reached out. The first video, which is 25 seconds long, remains up and has already been viewed 1.2 million times in three days.

Proof that there were briefly two videos of Hasidic Jews on Three 6 Mafia's TikTok
Screenshot of Three 6 Mafia’s TikTok account on Sunday.

Both videos contained the watermark of a content creator named Eggs Tyrone, whose Instagram account is full of mashups of people from different backgrounds dancing to music that was obviously dubbed over the real music for comedic effect. The Eggs Tyrone account includes several videos of Hasidic men, but other ethnic and religious groups are also represented, including a group of Arab men who appear to be doing a dabke folk dance to the classic 1998 song “Back That Azz Up” by Juvenile.

Other content creators such as Brisk God and Ori Mannheim (aka @Jewish808s) have found success with mashups featuring Hasidic Jewish men (but never women). The videos seem to resonate with viewers because of the surprising juxtaposition of deeply pious people dancing to music with explicit lyrics, and perhaps because they present Hasidic men as being hip.

“When you see these guys not dancing, they seem very serious and disciplined,” Brisk God told the Forward last year. “To see them go off and pull off some of the dance moves they are doing is really entertaining in itself.”

The relationship between Jews and hip-hop has been a topic of conversation all month, in part because Aug. 11 marked the 50th anniversary of hip-hop’s birth. In addition, rapper Cardi B sparked controversy on Aug. 4 when she posted a photo of Hasidic men on her X (formerly Twitter) account. She did so after she found out she wouldn’t face charges for throwing a microphone at a concertgoer in Las Vegas.

Cardi B’s post was widely interpreted as a reference to her use of Jewish lawyers and to a line in her 2018 song “Bickenhead”: “Lawyer is a Jew, he gon’ chew up all the charges / Don’t matter if you f— with me, I get money regardless.” In an essay in J., Stanford professor Shaina Hammerman wrote that the post drew from both positive and negative stereotypes about Jews.

Three 6 Mafia was one of the biggest Southern hip-hop groups in the early 2000s. They released their debut album, “Mystic Stylez,” in 1995 and helped popularize the horrorcore subgenre, which is distinguished by dark subject matter. (“Three 6” is a reference to 666, the number associated with the devil.) The duo will be performing in the Bay Area next month; they will open for their fellow Tennessean Jelly Roll at the Toyota Pavilion at Concord on Sept. 14.

On Monday, Three 6 Mafia posted two more videos to its TikTok account, neither of which features Hasidic Jews.

Andrew Esensten
Andrew Esensten

Andrew Esensten is the culture editor of J. Previously, he was a staff writer for the English-language edition of Haaretz based in Tel Aviv. Follow him on Twitter @esensten.