Crunk

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For other uses, see Crunk (disambiguation).

Crunk or krunk is a style of hip hop music that originated in Memphis, Tennessee[1] in the early 1990s and gained mainstream success around 2003–04.[2] Performers of crunk music are sometimes referred to as "crunksters".[3] Crunk is often up-tempo signifies one of southern hip hop's more club oriented sub genres.[clarification needed] An archetypal crunk track most frequently uses a drum machine rhythm, heavy bassline, and shouting vocals, often in a call and response manner.[2] The term "crunk" is also used as a blanket term to denote any style of Southern hip hop, a side effect of the genre's breakthrough to the mainstream.[3] The word derives from a slang past-tense form, "crunk", of the verb "to crank" (as in the phrase "crank up"), but has also been popularly assumed to mean "crazy drunk", after association with Crunk Juice, a brand of strong alcoholic beverage associated with the music genre.

Etymology[edit]

The term has been attributed mainly to African-American slang, in which it holds various meanings.[4] It most commonly refers to the verb phrase "to crank up". It is theorized that the use of the term came from a past-tense form of "crank", which was sometimes conjugated as "crunk" in the South, such that if a person, event or party was hyped-up, i.e. energetic – "cranked" or "cranked up" – it was said to be "crunk".[4]

In publications, "crunk" can be traced back to 1972 in the Dr. Seuss book Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!. He uses the term "Crunk-Car" without any given definition.[5] The term has also been traced to usage in the 1980s coming out of Atlanta, Georgia nightclubs and meaning being "full of energy" or "hyped".[6][7] In the mid-1990s, crunk was variously defined either as "hype", "phat", or "pumped up". Rolling Stone magazine published "glossary of Dirty South slang", where to crunk was defined as "to get excited".[3][4]

Outkast has been attributed as the first artist to use the term in mainstream music, in the 1993 track "Player's Ball".[8] A seminal year for the genre was 1996, with the releases of Three 6 Mafia album Chapter 1: The End (featuring "Gette'm Crunk"),[9] and Memphis-based underground hip hop artist Tommy Wright III's album On the Run, which featured the Project Pimp track "Getting Crunk".[10]

Artist Lil Jon was instrumental in bringing the term further into the mainstream with his 1997 album titled Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album. He later released other songs and albums using the term, and has been credited by other artists and musicians as galvanizing use of the term as well as mainstreaming the music genre itself.[7]

Lil Jon further disambiguated the word with his 2004 album Crunk Juice, and has been credited with inventing the potent alcoholic cocktail by that name.[11] This use of "crunk" became synonymous with the meaning "crazy drunk". Non-alcoholic drinks, to which alcohol could be added, were manufactured and marketed under the Crunk brand name, with Lil Jon as spokesman.[11][12]

The term has continued to evolve, taking on a negative stigma with police, parents and the media. In 2011, the company which manufactured "Crunk" drink brought out an alcoholic version named "Crunk Juice".[13] This drink was allegedly marketed towards 19–21 year olds – those under the US legal drinking age – resulting in Crunk Juice drinking being blamed as a cause of crime or becoming a victim of crime. The mainstream media began publishing stories in which the term "crunk" was used to refer to "crazy and drunk" criminals.[11][14][15]

Musical characteristics[edit]

Musically, crunk borrows heavily from bass music and 1980s-era call-and-response hip hop. Heavy use of synthesized instruments and sparse, truncated 808 drums are staples of the crunk sound. Looped, stripped-down drum machine rhythms are usually used. The Roland TR-808 and 909 are among the most popular. The drum machines are usually accompanied by simple, repeated synthesizer melodies in the form of ostinato, to create a hypnotic effect, and heavy bass stabs. The tempo of the music is somewhat slower than hip hop, around the speed of reggaeton.

The focal point of crunk is more often the beats and music than the lyrics therein. Crunk rappers, however, often shout and scream their lyrics, creating a heavy, aggressive style of hip hop. These lyrics can often be isolated to simple chants ("Where you from?" and "You can't fuck with me" are common examples). While other subgenres of hip hop address sociopolitical or personal concerns, crunk is almost exclusively party music, favoring call and response slogans in lieu of more substantive approaches.[3]

History[edit]

Origin of crunk[edit]

Lil Jon is one of crunk's most prominent musicians.

Crunk music arose from Miami bass music before 1996[1] in the southern United States, particularly in African American strip clubs of Memphis, Tennessee. One of the most prominent pioneers of crunk music, Lil Jon, said that crunk appeared as he decided to fuse hip hop and electro with electronic dance music like house and techno.

Memphis-based hip hop group Three 6 Mafia were "instrumental for the emergence of the crunk style" in the mid-to-late 1990s.[3] Two mixtape DJs from Memphis, DJ Paul and Juicy J, started making their original music, which was distinctive with its "spare, low-BPM rhythms, simplistic chants . . . and narcotically repetitive, slasher-flick textures".[3] This duo soon became known as Three 6 Mafia. Frequently featuring rappers such as Project Pat, Lord Infamous, and Gangsta Boo on their releases, they became instrumental in the formation of crunk music.[16]

In 1997, now in Atlanta, Lil Jon, with his group The East Side Boyz, released their first album titled Get Crunk, Who U Wit, these albums were the first of six albums released by Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz. Lil Jon said that they were first to use the word "crunk" in a song hook; he claimed that they had started to call themselves a "crunk group" on account of this album.[3] However, The New York Times denied that Get Crunk, Who Are You With was the first crunk album ever.[1] He was one of the key figures in popularizing crunk during 1998 and 1999, and produced two gold records independently, before signing to TVT Records in 2001. After being named the "King of Crunk Lil Jon went on [17]to collaborations with many popular artist such as Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Ludacris and Britney Spears.

Nevertheless, crunk was not exclusively associated with Lil Jon and Three 6 Mafia. In its early stages, such artists as Ying Yang Twins, Bone Crusher, Lil Scrappy, Trillville, Youngbloodz and Pastor Troy from Atlanta, and David Banner from Mississippi also helped to popularize crunk music.[3]

Rise in popularity and evolution[edit]

In the early to mid-2000s, some crunk music hits like "Get Low", "Goodies", "Yeah!", and "Freek-a-Leek" produced by Lil Jon climbed to the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Other hits produced by Lil Jon included "Okay", "Cyclone", "Girlfight", "U and Dat", and "Touch" Both "Yeah!" and "Goodies" were the first tracks to introduce the substyle of crunk music and contemporary R&B, called crunk&B, to the public. Both of those tracks (performed by Usher and Ciara, respectively) were the main mainstream hits of 2004.[18] Since then, crunk&B has been one of the most popular genres of sung African-American music, along with electropop, the genre that replaced crunk and crunk&B in the charts by 2008.

The song "Get Low" (2003), performed by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz with the Ying Yang Twins, is credited as the track which put crunk music into the national spotlight.[19] "Get Low" reached the number two position on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart; overall, it spent more than 21 weeks in the charts.[20] Though rappers not from Dixie had tended to avoid being associated with Southern hip hop music before, Busta Rhymes and Nelly accepted offers to perform on remixes of "Get Low".[19] Lil Jon's album, titled Kings of Crunk, which contains "Get Low", became double platinum.

In 2004, independent label Crunk Incorporated signed a major distribution deal with Reprise/Warner Brothers Records for the crunk group, Crime Mob dropped the platinum single "Knuck if you Buck". They later followed with another hit in 2006 called "Rock Yo Hips" In March 2004, R&B singer Houston released his crunk&B hit "I Like That", which reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2005, crunk&B reached the Billboard Hot 100 number one position, with the song "Run It!", performed by Chris Brown. In 2005 and 2006, crunk and crunk&B conquered the American R&B charts (and other charts specializing in music with rapping) and replaced hip hop and older styles of contemporary R&B.

In 2007, 17-year-old American rapper Soulja Boy released his hit "Crank That", which enjoyed the number one position in the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, and was nominated for a Grammy and became one of the main hits of the year, advancing the ever growing influence of snap music on the Billboard charts, as well as furthering delving into the crunk genre. During the same year, a number of websites specializing in crunk mixtapes opened, increasing exposure to the genre.

The growing interest in crunk music among music producers outside the African-American-dominated Southern hip hop scene led to the development of various subgenres of crunk, including eurocrunk, crunkcore, crunkczar, aquacrunk, acid crunk and most recently; trap music since 2009 as crunk has seen a relative decline in its presence in mainstream music as has since then snowballed and evolved into the rising popularity of trap and drill music genres during the 2010s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sanneh, Kelefa (November 28, 2004). "Lil John Crunks Up the Volume". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b Sarig, Roni (December 2003). "Southern Lights". Vibe 11 (12): 168–74. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Miller, Matt (10 June 2008). "Dirty Decade: Rap Music and the U.S. South, 1997–2007". Southern Spaces. 
  4. ^ a b c Oxford English Dictionary
  5. ^ Buchwald, Art (July 30, 1974). "Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ Wong, David (2011-12-22). "Ridiculous Origins of Everyday Words". Cracked.com. Retrieved 2013-05-29. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b Jones, Steve (July 25, 2003). "Get Crunk". USA Today. 
  8. ^ "Outkast Lyrics: 'Player's Ball'". Lyricstime.com. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  9. ^ Birchmeier, Jason (1996-12-03). "Da End: Three 6 Mafia". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  10. ^ "On the Run: Tommy Wright III". Allmusic.com. 1996-11-19. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  11. ^ a b c "'Crunk Juce': The superstrong alcoholic energy drink fuelling a new generation of louts". Daily Mail. June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  12. ^ "Crunk Energy Drink". 2007. [self-published source?]
  13. ^ "Crunk Juice Website". Cjcrunk.com. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  14. ^ Mail Online: "Baby-faced schoolboy gang"
  15. ^ "A Google listing of Crunk Related Crimes". Google.com. 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2013-05-29. [original research?]
  16. ^ Green, Tony (October 16, 2001). "Twerk to Do". Village Voice. 
  17. ^ http://www.biography.com/people/lil-jon-21213283
  18. ^ Shepherd, Julianne (August 18, 2006). "Soul Bounce: Crunk 'n' B 101". Archived from the original on September 13, 2007. 
  19. ^ a b Green, Tony (May 21, 2004). "Punk rap". MSNBC. 
  20. ^ Baca, Ricardo (September 16, 2003). "Brink in da Crunk: More take notice of hyper sound with Southern accent". The Denver Post. p. F-01. 

Further reading[edit]