Now that you have a firm understanding of what Crunk is, you must know who Crunk is – the undisputed King of Crunk, Lil Jon. Along with his partners The East Side Boyz, Lil Jon is responsible for putting Crunk on the mainstream map.
“Anything you say about Crunk has to start with Lil Jon,” said fellow Atlantan DJ Smurf of the Yin Yang Twins.
Atlanta-based rapper/producer, Lil Jon, shook clubs as a DJ before Jermaine Dupri scooped him in 1993 for So So Def Records, where Jon served as the executive vice president of A&R until 2000. All the while, Jon produced his own records, hosted a radio show at V103, and remixed tracks for major Atlanta-area artists such as Too Short, Xscape, Total, and Usher.
His 2002 double platinum-plus Kings Of Crunk, has been on the charts for an astonishing two years and produced the monster crossover hit “Get Low.” Featuring the hot-hot-hot “to the window to the wall” hook, that track introduced the rest of the world to Crunk and made Lil Jon a superstar. His producer midas touch helped take Usher’s “Yeah” into the pop single stratosphere.
So now you have no doubt who and what Crunk is, you may have a ton of other questions – namely where did Crunk come from.
Again, you can look to Lil Jon’s influences. In an exclusive interview, he told us that while growing up he was a skateboarding punk with a diversified music collection.
“The first music I fell in love with was early Hip-hop and then Bass was the main music in Atlanta,” Jon revealed. “Then after Bass, I started DJing the dancehall a little bit. When I was growing up I used to skateboard, so I listened to a lot of punk rock groups and all of that shit.”
He also grew up listening to 2 Live Crew, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, Ray Charles, Ice Cube (one of his idols) and Bob Marley. You can hear these various influences in his music, a music that is truly a genre unto itself, complete with a unique and diverse musical foundation. If you think back to the early 90’s you’ll remember booty bass singles like 95 South’s “Whoot (There It Is)” and 69 Boyz’ “Tootsee Roll” making peopleby lose their minds in the clubs, on the street, in the parking lot – wherever it happened to be pumping. Later on, there was the SoSo Def Bass Allstars compilations in the late ’90s (which Lil Jon oversaw) and groups like Memphis’ Three Six Mafia. All of these influences came together in Atlanta’s off-the-hook club scene, where Lil Jon drew the inspiration for 1997’s track and album “Get Crunk, Who You Wit,” and the 2000 track “Bia Bia.”
As a result of the popularity of these tracks, Jon opened the door for other regional stars such as Pastor Troy, David Banner, Bone Crusher and Killer Mike.
Killer Mike is one artist who, while loving the mainstream attention, doesn’t want the music to lose its edge.
“The best thing about crunk music right now is that it still scares people,” he told USA Today. “That’s what good American music has always done. It’s what Little Richard did. It’s what Parliament-Funkadelic did. It’s what early rap did. I’m hoping we don’t start making Pepsi and Coke commercials too quick.”