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Music Review: Crunk Hits Volume 3

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The only way to review a compilation like this without giving it shorter shrift than it deserves (okay, I may be overstating things) is to go song by song, artist by artist. Don’t ask me where I’m getting the energy for such an endeavor, but oh well. Maybe I’m hoping this will some day be a definitive work in the arena of crunk, written by a lost poet who’s not even sure he knows what the hell crunk even is, and maybe that’s for the best.

Let’s proceed.

David Banner – "Play"

This is the infamous “work that c—t, girl” song, with the guy whispering the hook (not to be confused with the whisper song) with the memorable quarter bar “beat it like Mike when he effed Billy Jean.” David Banner is an interesting case. For every great head snapping joint with nice production and solid lyrics he puts out, he squirts out a balladistic sappy yet dirty crappy love/eff jam. And this one is a bit unique in his repertoire 'cause it’s squarely in the middle of the two genres. Okay, it’s not unique. He’s done this song in similar forms, but this is the “that one” that gets the most pub. Anyway, it’s okay, and you’ve heard it a million times.

Three 6 Mafia – "Poppin my Collar"

I Love that these guys won The Oscar for best song for that pimp movie a couple years ago. I love that three black guys dressed in head to toe d.e.m.o. gear with giant gold chains and platinum grills, stood up in front of a crowd of duck suit clad automaton and metaphorically popped Chris. Yet they did it with such non "eff the system" class. That song was the shit, too. This is not that song, but it’s a good one. These guys are infectious. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but almost everything I hear from them I like.

Webster feat. Young B – "Chicken Noodle Soup"

Not sure if it’s Webster or Young B starting things off, but he’s telling me I already know who it is. I don’t. And then there's a female voice saying "let’s get it" 80 hundred times and then "chicken noodle soup" 80 times. Hmmm, tuning out, major tom, help, I’m lost, this song. Is. Bothering. Me. Let’s, uh, not get it. Crapola soup is more like it. L’Trimm meets Lil’ Jon’s mustachio’d evil twin, and not in a good way.

E-40 Feat T-Pain & Kandi Girl – "U and Dat"

Hmm. It’s hard for me to be objective about anything to do with E-40. Even though I have quite a bit of respect for his rapping skills, slanguage, and business acumen, not to mention his role as the godfather of hyphy, I am faced with the small problem that I have been quoted more than once as saying I hate him and can never forgive him. But water goes under bridge and makes it’s way to the ocean. So I will at this point say that, fine, E-40, you’re forgiven. It’s cool, really. My last tiny bit of vengeance will be to say nothing more about this song, which is actually pretty good.

Akon feat. Styles P. – "Locked Up"

Ah, the “I’ve been locked up” song. Actually a nice hook. I like Styles P, too. You know, the guy from the Lox. Man, now that was an outfit with unlimited potential (tha Lox) that just never came to even a near proximity of what could have been. Individually, I mean, yeah, Jada puts down nice stuff here and there, and this guy, and, uh, that other guy. But if memory serves correct, they sounded nice together, notwithstanding Puffy hollering stupid shit every 27 seconds. I guess Akon is the guy singing?

LL Cool J feat. Timbaland – "Head Sprung"

LL Cool J. Jesus Christ. The ultimate chameleon, er, the ultimate Madonna of the rap world? Wow. This guy just sticks around like glue, somehow finding ways to stay relevant. This song is catchy, nice hook, keeps you moving. Well, that’s on Timbaland.

Have you watched VH1 top 20 in a while? Timbaland is the beatsmith on like every other song, be it Justin Timberlake (shoot me if/when I start calling him JT. He’ll never be a bigga figga), whatserface that looks like Courtney Cox (btw her new show Dirt mercilessly blows), or the Pussycat Dolls (is that the next song on the commentary?). Anyway, Missy's buddy is blowing up, not like he wasn’t, but like that otha (I won’t say next) level style, switching to pop from hip hop, which, when you think about it, even with the most underground stuff, in so many ways has become indistinguishable.

The Pussycat Dolls – "Don’t Cha"

Hmmm, the liner notes say this was produced by Cee-Lo (as in big homey from Gnarls Barkley, Goodie Mobb, et al). This is the "don’t you wish your girlfriend" song. Now wasn’t there another song like this back in the day? Maybe I’m trippin'. Anyway, maybe Timba did a remix. Suddenly, I just can’t care anymore. Busta’s blabbing on this too. Sigh. Busta. A guy I sometimes really like and other times irritates the living hell out of me. Moving on.

Pitbull – "Ay Chico (Lengua Afuera)"

Classic crunk with the Spanish twang. Cuban dancing, cigar lighting, colliparkin' salsa medleys and hollering about biting climaxes and bravado inspired showing what you’re working with. Works if you’re grinding in the club and shaking an ass or two (or three.)

Chris Brown – "Run It!"

Yet another song I’m sure you’ve heard on the radio. "He’s got friends / You’ve got friends / Let him know, etc., Your man on the floor / If he ain’t let him know / yadda yadda." Nice sounding song, even the 893rd time hearing it. Salud.

Is this really crunk? Not sure if there’s a rap to be found. Is crunk strictly the beats? If it’s pounding a bit is it crunkin? Do you need ice grills? Okay, that was a bit sarcastic, but seriously, the break on this is more smooth jam a la Billy Ocean than Lil Jon sippin' out of a pimp cup. Anyway.

T-Pain feat. Mike Jones – "I’m n Luv (Wit a Stipper)"

It’s dreadfully hard for me to not like anything with Mike Jones involved. I’m still not sure how he pulls it off being so infinitely famous now, but he still manages to connive the “no one believes in me and now I’m showing you all” vibe that he came up with. And “back then” I’m convinced will go down on the all time list. Watch the years click by and realize that he’s still not gone. Homey will be hosting Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year's Eve after what's-his-ass from American idol gets kidnapped by terrorists and no one bothers coming up with the ransom money. Oh, T-Pain? Uh, yeah, okay. A crooning stripper buff. Congrats?

Tyrese feat. Lil Jon – "Turn Ya Out"

See, now this has to qualify as crunk. Why? Cuz it starts off with Lil’ Jon saying “hey.” So what that the rest of the song is strictly a Tyrese R&B joint with nary a slamming 808 in sight. Okay, one or two 808s, but that’s requisite these days. Even Barry White would crank up the bass on his ghetto blaster in '07, but I think this tests the theory that Lil’ Jon is to crunk what E-40 is to hyphy. If E-40 utters so much as one slimy slice of slanguage on a track, it’s hyphy, and all you need is a hey from the lil grilled one and there ya go.

Seriously, this is not crunk; it’s just not. I’m about three minutes in and the only, oh, wait, there he is. Okay, Lil Jon is talking about how he wanted a bitch right when he saw her. And thus the song is crunked, and that’s it. A hey at the beginning and a “I’m just trying to turn ya out” at the end, and suddenly a romantic love jam is a crunked out ode to shaking asses. Okely dokely.

Lil Rob – "Bring out the Freak in You"

Wow, this is just bad. Lil Rob? Really? “hey girl you got a pretty mouth” and then spelling out nasty? Does holmes even hear the beat? Did he rap this into his tape recorder and then drop it off at Sam Goody to loop in with the option three on the synthesizer, dropping in a bongo drum? Horrible, awful, and that’s being generous. I will say, though,  if I need to say something nice, he’s a good speller.

Lil Wayne – "Hustler Musik"

Wheezy got the luck of the draw here coming up after Lil Rob, but in actuality I’m always a sucker for the artist formerly known as the little kid from the Hot Boys, white party pops smooches notwithstanding, but it’s cool. Wifey still makes fun of me for kissing grandma, I know how it goes. I still get misty eyed over that Hot Boys breakup. Unlike the Lox, the Hot Boys were dropping dynamite, in my humble opinion. The gigantic difference being they had a superproducer in Mannie Fresh and a record label (Cash Money) with the objective of dropping a million albums as fast as possible, a result of having to keep up with the machine that was once no limit.

The lox, on the other hand, were stuck on Puffy’s Bad Boy, who seemed to think that the longer you drag shit out, the more people will see it as “art” and thereby value it more. Does this make any sense whatsoever? Anyway, this is an alright jam, Wheezie’s had better, no doubt. "Fireman," (which I think is on Crunk Hits 2) is much more enjoyable. But, hey, yeah, whatever, smooth it out young man, great, great sandwich.

Jim Jones – "Crunk Muzik"

Ooohh, I actually like this. I feel like I just woke up. See, this is what I view as crunk. Rap, heavy beats, the cadence is a little disjointed but not off beat (re: Lil Rob). But hey, as I said in the intro, I don’t necessarily know what crunk is. Maybe that’s what this exercise is all about. This is a nice song. Nothing revolutionary, just a couple guys dropping bars with gunshot sounds popping in the background here and there. It’s not rocket science guys. You don’t need Tyrese singing your hook. You don’t need to smooth it out. You don’t have to profess your undying love out of one side of your mouth while hollering bitch out the other.

And, whoah, there’s Cam’ron, Killa' Cam, dropping a sick verse, uncredited. Cam, wow, one of the most underrated rappers in the game, in my opinion. Yet so deserved, antithetically, because he drops so much crap and wears pink velour suits. So, well, yeah, but he acquits himself fantastically here. Also, I mean, you gotta love an artist that names himself after a guy that killed a bunch of fanatics by poisoning them with kool aid.

Paul Wall – "Girl"

Jesus Christ, here we go. This has all the problems I mentioned in the paragraph above, simping and pimping at the same time. This ain’t kierkegaard guys, you don’t need to convince me that God exists while outlining the ideas of nothing matters et al. and all you philosophy majors don’t jump down my throat. Yes, I’m talking out of my ass. Is Paul Wall’s 15 minutes up yet?

I don’t want it to be. Really, he’s talented. I like his flow, but with crap like this, draggin' out 50’s joints like “oh girl” and making a love song rap out of it. I mean, LL Cool J did this shit in '88 and he’s figured it out. Fuck it, dial up timbaland for some crunk juice and flex muscles and shake asses. I thought you understood Paul, I really did. I know you do. Call up Mike Jones, get a truckload of jiggling posteriors, drag Lil Jon away from his boudoir, and drop something real on us. Please don’t make me hear you profess your love for an imaginary hobag anymore. I just can’t take it. Gracias.

Ying Yang Twins & Bun B – "Git It"

Not the greatest thing ever created, but more crunk like it’s supposed to be. Lil Jon yelling, the twins rapping and hollering about asses, and Bun B dropping by for some requisite wisdom. Gets the job done without being too ambitious, which sometimes is the best idea, especially if someone is in your ear contemplating flipping a Supremes song about that girl he loves so much into a crunk anthem. Run, children, run. Nope, this works, but okay, I’m not crazy about it.

Too $hort – "Blow the Whistle"

Best song on the album. And not just because I love Too $hort. The beat, the topic, the rhymes, everything comes together to create the perfect crunk song. Even the “blow the whistle” hook with the whistle actually blowing, hey, that’s great. Calling out other players, explaining how he created “beyatch,” not a hint of simping anywhere, heavy beats, sigh, what every crunk song should aspire for. And all it is is classic Short with a little more speed, a little more bass. Short rides it like a pro, which he is. The best thing I’ve heard from the king of East Oakland in quite some time, and he’s been putting it down, so that’s saying something. Love this. Love it.

Gucci Mane feat. Mac Breezy – "Go Head"

"Shorty got an ass on her, gonna pop a rubber band on her." Yeah, okay, fine, you win. This is, um, eh, okay? I’m tired. I give up. Mac Breezy sounds suspiciously like that female rapper that bounced all over No Limit circa 97-99. I can’t remember her name right now. Does pop a rubber band on an ass mean it’s a tight ass or a bouncy ass, or both, or does it matter? Sigh, shalom. I can’t argue with rubber bands and asses. Adios.

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