For anyone who thinks commerce diminishes music, I present a counter-argument: Crunk'n'b. Since the beginning of time, rap and Rn'B have been cross-pollinating in a for-the-most-part nakedly commercial arrangement: Rn'B singers get rappers to guest on their songs, increasing their potential sales base beyond the female/loverboy marketplace and toughening things up for "the streets" (i.e. the suburbs). Rappers get Rn'B singers to guest on their "for the ladies" tracks and the ones most nakedly aimed for commercial dominance. And believe me, commerce makes this marriage work - as free internet mixtapes demonstrate, left to their own non-commercial devices most rappers will happily bark out an hour of increasingly clever death threats over something approximating looped Wagnerian doom-flourishes over the Orc war drums from Lord of the Rings with nary a melodic voice in earshot*. Don't get me wrong, I love a Gucci Mane mixtape as much as the next guy. But every now and then, when rap and R&B get together to make a particularly beautiful baby the results can transcend the joys of either genre on their own, as anybody who's ever rapped along to ODB's verse on Mariah Carey's “Fantasy” remix in a packed club can attest ("Me and Marriaaaaaaah, go back like babies and pacifiiiiiers...").
This fruitful arrangement seemed threatened, though, in the early 00s, when South wrested the rap crown away from NY/LA, birthing crunk and treating the listening public to some of the most nihilistic and aggressive music to ever become commercially viable since the heyday of hair metal (listen to Lil Jon and the Eastside Boy's Kings of Crunk all the way through and try not to punch a hole in your wall). Would the dulcet tones of an Rn'b chanteuse be able to coexist with the Zombie-soundtrack-on-meth histrionics of crunk at its finest? Happily, this oil-and-water mixture, helped along by the glorious emulsifier of cash, whipped itself up into a delightful blend that resulted in some of the decade's most memorable club music. So the next time you hear one of these tracks on a night out, take a 20 out of your wallet (or a five more likely) and give the queen a big fat kiss.
*Except for Drake, Drake is a wonderful mutant.
A classic of Atlanta bass, a progenitor to crunkn'b. If you want to know why Atlanta is better than the rest of the world: This song came out on a compilation marketed as something to play loud on your car stereo. At this point the rest of the world was probably using DaRude for the same purpose.
Ciara is the undisputed princess of Crunk n' B
The song that turned Lil Jon from a man who could afford jeweled chalices to a man who can actually afford to drink diamonds.
A particularly gritty turn from a pre-solo Beyonce.
Note - Juelz is not actually from the South but he is possibly the crunkest person from New York. Not saying we condone Chris Brown either, but, like many awful human beings, he happens to have made some great R&B songs.
Notable for its complete lack of rap and yet still crunk as all get out.
Smoother than the rest but still a banger. The photo of Weezy on this youtube clip is just priceless.
Three 6 were once the gulliest of the gully. If you would have told me this collaboration would take place back in 2001 I would have laughed in your face (Those guys? With the guy from N'Sync?) Now Three 6 have an Oscar and a reality show under their belt, and probably stop by Justin's place for fondue every several weeks. That is what we call Crunk n' B personified.
The crunkn'b template, indiefied and still blowing people's minds after all these years. I want to make a t-shirt that says "Crunk's not dead" and wear it to one of their gigs.
Drowned in Crunk - Spotify Playlist - click here to play
Here's most of the above, plus a few silly things that show how debased the term "crunk" has become.
Lil Jon 'What Is Crunk Rock? - Interlude'
Lil Jon 'Get Crunk'
Drake – 'Forever' (feat. Kanye, Eminem and Lil' Wayne)
Lil Scrappy 'No Problem'
DJ Boo Boo 'Ghost Town Party'
Ciara featuring Petey Pablo 'Goodies - featuring Petey Pablo'
Usher Featuring Lil' Jon & Ludacris 'Yeah!'
Destiny's Child featuring T.I. and Lil Wayne 'Soldier - Radio Edit'
Juelz Santana 'Run It! - Featuring Juelz Santana'
Electrik Red 'Drink In My Cup'
Bobby 'Tell Me - Remix Radio'
Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland & Three-6 Mafia 'Chop Me Up - Main Version - Clean'
Lil Jon 'What U Gon´ Do'
Aesop Rock 'Forest Crunk'
Lil Wayne 'Lollipop'
Nas 'Grand Finale (feat. Bun B, Fat Joe, Ice Cube, Nas, T.I.)'
Sleigh Bells 'Infinity Guitars'
Tila Tequila 'Stripper Friends (Crunk Mix)'
Ke$ha 'TiK ToK - Tom Neville's Crunk & Med Mix'
All Time Low 'Umbrella'
Listen: Drowned in Crunk (Juice)