Karl Marx and the King of Crunk? Could the manufacturer of thunderous, rowdy club shakers possibly be subversive enough to have social tenets buried under squealing synth-lines and far-out whistles? In an age in which most of the pop world trumpets Grey Goose and H2’s, all one needs to join Lil’ Jon is a rebellious spirit and a poor sense of civil obedience. Lil’ Jon lifts up the working class, the everyman, into a sublime party state.
Crunk Juice is the third album Lil’ Jon has released with his longtime partners The Eastside Boyz and, much like the small empire he’s constructed producing hit singles with unerring quality, it’s essentially the same song you’ve heard for the past 18 months. That’s not to say it doesn’t succeed.
For all of the pot-shots Lil’ Jon has taken, from Dave Chappelle and rap purists most notably, there is one invincible tenet of Lil’ Jon’s music: It’s got more energy than a ton of plutonium. It’s club music of the highest form. Lil’ Jon’s crunk jams are really just alcohol, sweat, booming chants and club denizens condensed into four-minute anthems. Again, slyly aware of his own shortcomings as an emcee — Chapelle was pretty on point with the entire “YEEEEAAAAAAH!” skit — Crunk Juice enlists Ice Cube on the shrieking “Real Nigga Roll Call” and mainstream rap talents like Ludacris, Pharrell, Nas and Fat Joe on other tracks.
For the most part, Crunk Juice is proletariat empowering party rap. “What U Gon’ Do” starts off with murky whistles and muffled sonar bleeps emanating somewhere from the U.S.S. Lil’ Scrappy. Tracks like “Get Crunk” and “Aww Skeet Skeet” are locker-room songs designed to rile up the young and willing.
While lyrical depth is non-existent and occasionally the shouts to women become more than a little unnerving, there is also absolutely none of the materialistic obsession found in similar party rappers like Fabolous or Twista. He preaches individuality, energy and nationalism through repeated shouting of one’s state. Of course, for each of the album’s rowdy peaks, the droning valley gets thrown in sharp relief. There is a limit to how much crunk a listener can take, and after 20 tracks of high-decibel shouting, it’s easy to see why Lil’ Jon will always be a singles artist. It’s fun when it happens and while it lasts, so the sloppy sound of Crunk Juice scrapes by on effort. And hey, if songs about everyone throwing elbows in the club can make someone think about a Crunk Manifesto, that’s got to be worth something.
Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars