30 June, 2010@1:31 am
Lil Jon’s Crunk Rock was announced five years ago, to be released on TVT off of the strength of the hit single, “Snap Ya Fingaz”, along with E-40 and Sean P. After a lengthy legal battle with the label, Jon moved over to Universal Republic, taking Crunk Rock with him, in theory, at least. The TVT recording sessions found him collaborating with the likes of Kid Rock and P.O.D., as the mash-up scene was hot in 2005, but we’ve slowly watched that fade away with hip-house taking it’s place as the trendy new club sound.
Jon has fully embraced the uptempo rhythms filling dancefloors these days, as he has been found collaborating with artists like LMFAO, Pitbull, David Guetta, and DJ Chuckie over the last year, all of whom appear on Crunk Rock as well, in some way or another. The bare bones “standard” edition of Crunk Rock lives up to it’s name, being mostly an urban centered, southern rap record, but on the deluxe version we find him experimenting with the newer sounds and styles. Jon is a hype man that can light any BPM on fire, from the slowest 62 to the hypest 130, and he does so all over Crunk Rock.
On the crunk end of things, Jon keeps it real for his A-Town followers, with blissfully gutter tracks like “Throw It Up Part 2″ and “G Walk” (feat. Soulja Boy). But tracks like “Ride Da D” (feat. Ying Tang Twins) and “Get In Get Out” (a dope beat which could use a good guest artist) are derivative of his past hits, and do little to incite new buzz. This type of flair has seem to have run it’s course in commercial hip-hop, hardly attracting the type of mainstream club hype that it once did. Thankfully he does have a handful of stronger moments in this area – namely “Outta Your Mind”, a ridiculously grimey collaboration with LMFAO that reinvents his sound perfectly. Also on the 90′s west-coast gangsta rap throwback “Killas”, we get bonus verses from Ice Cube and Game that help balance out Jon’s trademark delivery.
On the flipside, the deluxe edition finds Jon moving away from the crunk sound and embracing his status as all-around-good-times-hype-man. And he does it well. The 2009 club anthem “Shots” appears here, and still bangs as loudly as it did when it was first released. He collaborates again with David Guetta on the minimalist “Oh What A Night” (feat. Claude Kelly), which has the potential to sneak up and be a huge crowd pleaser as the year progresses. “Work It Out” pits Jon with Pitbull and DJ Chuckie, as each of the artists slide comfortably in their natural groove. The Jodeci sampling “Every Freakin’ Night”, in a rare moment, finds Jon altering his style from screaming club commander to European sex-dungeon master. Sounds strange, but somehow it works.
But what doesn’t necessarily work is Crunk Rock as a whole. It’s understandable exactly why Jon has released two different versions of this LP – his original audience would be insulted by the abundance of house music tracks, but in reality, those will be the biggest hits for him. And Jon is clearly about making hit records, as the thanks to the incredibly diverse sound of this album, the single track sales of this LP will far outweigh the number of albums sold. This is a collection of piecemeal singles, not ATLiens.
Taken by itself and of course for what it is, Lil Jon has some brilliant moments on this LP, but to think about in terms of an album is almost impossible. Aside from DJ’s and career club people, there aren’t many people that love the sounds of David Guetta and E-40 at the same time, and that’s what the ultimate problem with Crunk Rock is. Taken song by song, it’s easy to see how this album will be broken up and rationed out to radio, but as a whole is not as strong as the sum of its parts.
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