Crunk Juice

Artist: Lil Jon & The East Side BoyzTitle: Crunk JuiceRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Orisanmi Burton

As the official ambassador of “crunk” to the world, Lil Jon single handedly propelled his underdog label TVT Records to the top of the Billboard Charts with the release of his second full length album in 2002, Kings of Crunk. Dirty south Hip-hop has been a force to be reckoned with for over a decade now. Artists like The Ghetto Boys, The Dungeon Family and UGK paved the way with their distinct sound flavored with localized slang and laid back lyrical deliveries. However there is nothing laid back about Lil Jon’s club-ready concoctions of earth shattering bass and menacing keyboard arrangements. “Get Low” the second single from his multi-platinum Kings of Crunk album, turned out to be one of last year’s biggest singles, rousing unsuspecting partygoers into frenzy and for Lil Jon, translating into big radio airplay and an A-List line-up of collaboration offers. He invigorated the careers of The Youngbloodz and The Yin Yang Twins with “Damn” and “Salt Shaker,” respectively, while bringing Usher back hard with the his smash hit “Yeah” in 2003.

Crunk Juice (TVT), is the third full length studio release from Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz, and finds the trio sticking to the conventions that made them successful last time around. For all intents and purposes the album is a compilation produced mostly by Lil Jon, but narrated by an all star roster of guests including Ludacris, Chris Rock, T.I., Eight Ball & MJG, Lil’ Scrappy, Pimpin Ken, Bun B., Jadakiss, Pharrell Williams, Nas and R Kelly. Expect more of Lil Jon’s raucous sing-a-long hooks, infamous for inciting ladies to holler self-deprecating statements at the tops of their lungs and for provoking fellas to threaten each other’s lives. All in the name of Hip-hop music. On “What U Gon Do” Lil Jon and company chant:

If you fall up in the club,

And them niggas wanna mug,

When you step up to they face

What they gon' do, SH*T!

If you fall up in the club,

And them hoes start acting up,

When you step up to them hoes,

What they gon' do, SH*T!

Two stand-out tracks are “White Meat” featuring the underrated Eight Ball & MJG and “Contract” featuring Jazzy Pha and Triville. The former finds the Memphis duo trading rugged verses over a series of tightly constructed electric guitar samples and sub woofer shattering 808 bass kicks while the latter, as evidenced by the colorful introduction from Pimpin’ Ken, is a not-so-subtle invitation for sex with no strings attached.

There are a couple of suprises on Crunk Juice as well. “Stop F*ckin’ Wit Me”, a Rick Rubin produced heavy metal track, “Aww Skeet Skeet” an homage to D.C. Go Go music and “Lovers & Friends”, an Usher and Ludacris slow jam, are all notable departures from his usual formula. Although these tracks disrupt the rhythm of the album and sound a bit contrived, branching out and experimenting with different types of music is a smart move for someone in such high demand. On “Stick That Thang Out” Lil Jon doles the production duties to the Neptunes, who throw together a BPM heavy track bound for gentlemen’s clubs across the country. After Pharell continues his recent flirtations with MC’ing, Lil Jon recites no less than five different chorus’ popularized during the Miami Bass frenzy of the early 90s. Lines like:

Ain’t nuthin but Tooty Fruity

Get on the floor if you got that booty

Shake what ya mamma gave ya

Shake what ya mamma gave ya

But perhaps the most lyrically potent song on the Crunk Juice is “Grand Finale” featuring Bun B., Jadakiss, T.I., Nas and Ice Cube, a dope beat, and no hook; a true posse cut.

After Dave Chappelle’s hilarious skit poking fun at Lil Jon’s limited arsenal of crunk vocabulary, everyone with a .5 pop culture I.Q. was walking around screaming “Yeah!”, “What!” and “Okay!”. With that much exposure it would have been easy to fizzle out,

but in the past 2 years, Lil Jon has cemented himself as a certified hit maker. Crunk Juice reveals no signs of him slowing down anytime soon. What the album lacks in artistry and maturity, it makes up for in energy and rhythm. Expect to hear quite a few singles and remixes off of this album and many more projects to come.