Stylistic origins Hip hop, Southern hip-hop, disco, electro, Miami bass, R&B, Gangsta rap
Cultural origins 1990s, Memphis, Tennessee
Typical instruments Drum machine - Synthesizer - Vocals - Robotic voice effects
Mainstream popularity Mid to late 2000s
Subgenres Snap music, Trap (music genre)
Fusion genres Aquacrunk - Crunk&B - Crunkcore - Witch house

Crunk, or Krunk, is a music style that originated in Memphis, Tennessee in the mid-to-late 1990s and gained mainstream success around 2003–04. Performers of crunk music are sometimes referred to as crunksters. An archetypal crunk track most frequently uses a drum machine rhythm, heavy bassline, and shouting vocals, often in call and response manner. 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.


The term "Crunk" has been attributed mainly to African American slang which holds various meanings. It generally refers to the verb phrase " to be cranked up ". It is also theorized that the use of the term came from the past tense form of "crank", which was sometimes conjugated as "crunk" in the South. Thus, if a person, event or party was hyped, energetic ("cranked")- it was said to be "crunk".

In publications, the term 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. The term has also been traced to usage in the 1980s coming out of Atlanta, Georgia night clubs and meaning being "full of energy" or "hyped". 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".

Outkast has been attributed as the first artists to use the term crunk in mainstream music, in the 1993 song "Player's Ball". 1996 proved to be a seminal year for the genre, with the releases of Three 6 Mafia album Chapter 1: The End (featuring "Gette'm Crunk"), and Memphis-based underground hip hop legend Tommy Wright III album On the Run (featuring the Project Pimp track "Getting Crunk").

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 released other songs and albums using the term crunk. Lil Jon has been credited by other artists and musicians as the person who galvanized and mainstreamed the use of the term crunk as well as the music genre.

Lil Jon further disambiguated the term crunk with his 2004 album Crunk Juice. He is supposedly credited with inventing the "cocktail" Crunk Juice. This use of the term crunk became synonymous with the meaning "Crazy Drunk". Non alcoholic drinks, to which alcohol could be added, were manufactured and marketed as "Crunk" with Lil Jon being the spokesperson.

The term has continued to evolve taking on a negative stigma with police, parents, and the media. In 2011, the same company that manufactured the drink "Crunk" came out with an alcoholic version of the beverage naming it "Crunk Juce" (also known as "CJ"). This drink was marketed towards individuals between 19 to 21 year old and was being blamed by police of causing "drinkers of Crunk" to commit crimes or become victims of crime. The mainstream media began publishing stories in which the term crunk was being used to mean "Crazy and Drunk" criminals.

Musical characteristicsEdit

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.


Origin of crunkEdit

Crunk music arose from miami bass music before 1996 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 Three 6 Mafia were "instrumental for the emergence of the crunk style" in the mid-to-late 1990s. 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". 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.

In 1996, now in Atlanta, Lil Jon, with his group The East Side Boyz, released their first album, titled Get Crunk, Who U Wit. 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. However, The New York Times denied that Get Crunk, Who Are You With was the first crunk album ever. 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.

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

Rise in popularityEdit

In the early 2000s, some crunk music hits like "Get Low", "Goodies" and "Yeah!" produced by Lil Jon climbed to the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. 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. Since then, crunk&B has been one of the most popular genres of sung African American music, along with electro pop, genre that replaced crunk and crunk&B in the charts in 2008.

The song called "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. "Get Low" reached number two position in Billboard Hot 100 music charts; overall, it spent more than 21 weeks in charts. 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". Lil Jon's album, titled Kings of Crunk, which contains "Get Low", became double platinum.

In 2005, crunk&B reached Billboard Hot 100 number one position once again, now with the pop song "Run It!" hit, performed by Chris Brown. In 2005 and 2006, crunk and crunk&B conquered American R&B charts and charts specialising on music with rapping and replaced hip hop and older styles of contemporary R&B. From 2006 to 2008 many crunk music albums appeared on Billboard Top 200 number one position.

In 2007, 17 year old entertainer Soulja Boy made the massive superhit called "Crank That" which enjoyed number one position in Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, was nominated for a Grammy and became one of the main hits of the year. Around that year, a bunch of internet websites specialising on crunk and hip hop mixtapes opened, and that fact caused the growing of the popularity of crunk. Also in 2007, crunk singer and rapper T-Pain popularised the use of autotune effect in crunk music, which became very popular in many styles of popular music since then.

In 2008, both crunk and crunk&B developed a new subgenre of trance crunk, a mix of crunk and trance music, and Usher's superhit "Love in This Club" enjoyed number one position in Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. The following year, numerous crunk hits reached Top 40 in American charts. The growing interest in crunk music among white music producers caused the appearance of various subgenres of crunk, including eurocrunk, crunkcore, crunkczar, aquacrunk, and acid crunk.


See AlsoEdit

The Four Core Elements Breaking | DJing | Graffiti | MCing
Hip-Hop culture Dance | Fashion | Music | Production | Theater | Beatboxing
History History | Golden age | Old school | New school
Subgenres Acid rap – Alternative hip-hop – Bit-HopBounce musicChicano rapChopped and screwedChristian hip-hopConscious hip-hopEast Coast hip-hopFreestyle rapGangsta rapHardcore hip-hopHorrorcoreIndie hip-hopInstrumental hip-hopMafioso rapMidwest hip-hopNative American hip-hopNerdcore hip-hopUnderground hip-hopPolitical hip-hopPop rapSnap musicTurntablismWest Coast hip-hop - Trap (music genre)
Fusion genres Abstract hip-hop - Baltimore clubCountry rapCrunkCrunkcoreCumbia rapElectro hopG-funkGhetto houseGhettotechGlitch hopHip-Hop soulHip houseHiplifeHyphyIndustrial hip-hopJazz rapMerenrapNeo soul - Rap metalRap operaRap rockRapcoreDigital Hardcore - Wonky (music)
By continent African | Asian | European | Latin American | Middle Eastern
By country
Other Turntablism | 1520 Sedgwick Avenue | Master of Ceremonies | Hip-Hop music | Hip-Hop culture | Hip-Hop Timeline: 1925 - Present | Scratching | Hook (music) | Break (music) | Sampling (music) | Synthesizer | Hip-Hop rivalry | Misogyny in hip hop culture | Rap Genius
Lists & Categories Genres | Models

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