Thus far, crunk has been a one-sided affair — the Down South-originated genre has spread like a virus from clubs to radio to video, spawning converts and imitators with each rowdy chant, ear-splitting handclap, and stomp-inspiring snare hit. Yet its lyrics have hardly been memorable, usually instructing loose women to gyrate in a succession of scandalous dancefloor positions, or throwing ‘bos at their hatin’-ass boyfriends.
As for the actual Lil’ Jon, he has engineered a bold takeover of the music industry, symbolized best by Usher’s “Yeah,” the most energetic thing to happen to R&B since James Brown declared he was a sex machine. On Crunk Juice, the follow-up to 2003’s multiplatinum Kings of Crunk, LJ flexes his A-list status with guest appearances by everyone from Ice Cube to Snoop Dogg to Fat Joe to Nas to R. Kelly to Pharrell Williams. There’s enough profanity here to satisfy anyone who can’t get enough of the word “bitch,” but the adrenaline-charged beats far outshine that.
Pitbull’s M.I.A.M.I. — an anagram for “Money Is a Major Issue” — does nothing to lessen the degree of crunk’s misogyny, with songs like “She’s Freaky,” “That’s Nasty,” and “Culo” (“ass” in Spanish). But while not politically correct, crunk’s answer to Tony Montana is also the closest thing to Rakim the genre has yet produced. Pitbull’s tight, interlocking flows transcend his shallow subject matter (sex and cocaine), offering a glimpse of what crunk could be if it had doper MCs than Bo Hagen and Lil’ Scrappy. Meanwhile, Lil’ Jon’s presence behind the boards solidifies the link between crunk, dancehall reggae, and bass music, a combination sure to free your culo, if not your mind.