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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
9/16/2003 9:39:04 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Chingy, Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz and Ying Yang Twins.

Mainstream hip-hop is a tough nut to crack, but the latest thing to ding its blingy veneer has little to do with rapping.

The crunk has landed, and this party brand of hip-hop - all chants and gold teeth and strippers and bass - is shouting its way to the top of the charts and radio play lists. Just ask crunk ambassador Lil Jon, who's been on the chart for 24 weeks with Get Low, still at No. 4. The track's nightclub vibe, accentuated by Lil Jon's barely cogent screams, is crunk embodied.

Crunk is hyper, provocative and chauvinistic, and full of deep bass and raging Southern accents. Its call-and-response antics make partyers shout along, yet underneath is complex, smart production work.

One listen to popular radio will give you a healthy dose of crunk from such artists as Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, the Ying Yang Twins, the YoungBloodZ or even Chingy, whose Right Thurr, now No. 5 on the hip-hop chart, has crunk influences.

Most of these artists - save for Chingy, who hails from St. Louis - grew up in the same Atlanta neighborhoods and still guest on each others' albums.

"We all came up together," said J Bo of the YoungBloodZ, whose new album Drankin' Patnaz is at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in its second week. "I went to school with (Ludacris) back in the day. Me and Sean Paul (also of the YoungBloodZ) and Dre from OutKast went to school together, too."

With a couple of recent high-profile releases - including the Ying Yang Twins' Me & My Brother - crunk is gaining momentum. "All our music does is make people get hyper," said D Rock of the Ying Yang Twins

The word "crunk" first emerged as an adjective synonymous with hyper, as in "that track is crunk." Lil Jon was known in Atlanta in the early '90s as a club deejay, but became a vice president at So So Def Records and then a music producer. Then he became a performer, and his King of Crunk disc was certified platinum last week.

The crunk onslaught was enough for hip-hop magazine The Source to put David Banner, Lil Jon and Bone Crusher on its September cover burning the Confederate flag and proclaiming, "The New South."

"There's something about the energy that the music gives you that can only be compared to slam dancing and how punk rock made people feel when it first came out in the late '70s," said Mark Allwood, Source music editor.

At its core, crunk is superficial music obsessed with perversity. Lil Jon watches porn and drinks in the studio, says J Bo of the YoungBloodZ.

"Lil Jon, now he's the king of the slow-grooving, hard-driving bass beats," said D Rock of the Ying Yangs.

Added The Source's Allwood: "Sometimes people do just want to hear mindless club music, and that's what you have Lil Jon for. But some have substance and aren't just yelling and chanting hooks like Lil Jon. You have artists like Killer Mike, who is capable of getting on a crunk song like Never Scared and still really say something."

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