Lil Jon – Crunk Juice / Saul Williams – Saul Williams

Lil Jon & The East Side BoyzCrunk Juice (TVT)

Saul WilliamsSaul Williams (Fader)

There is a rift growing, parting the sea of hip hop into two distinct factions—one is all crunk beats, flashy gold, and inaudible shouting; monopolizing 106 & Park and introducing a suburban sub-genre of hip hop for everyone regardless of culture, background, and upbringing. The sole focus of this faction is to keep the party moving, to keep the clubs bouncing, to keep the crunk….crunking.

The other group wants to reverse the misconceptions people have about hip hop, the same falsities and umbrella ideas that the former group reinforces. These MCs have things to get off their chest—political, social, and cultural agendas; personal burdens to unload. Perhaps the best mission statement for this group comes from Talib Kweli, one of the most respected of these old-school MCs. “The label wants a song about a bubbly life / I have trouble tryin’ to write some shit that bang in the club through the night / While people suffer tonight / Lord knows I try.”

I believe everyone has heard of Lil Jon by now—while it isn’t exactly true the man pays Dave Chappelle royalties, it’s not a secret that our favorite gold-toothed chalice-wielding friend is far more famous for three words—in fact, I’m sure reading this sentence leads you to proudly belt out a “Yyyeeeeaahhhhhhh!!!!”—then his career as a rapper and producer. But, rest assured, Lil Jon is rapper first and comic second and his latest album, Crunk Juice, is further proof hip hop’s growth has led to the same diluted net result embodied by the success of the Linkin Parks and Hoobastanks of modern rock radio. It’s sad, because hip hop—even moreso then rock—developed out of something visceral and energetic. People started to rap because it was the only thing to keep them away from the dangerous temptations of America’s inner-cities. That sense of anger and pride has been replaced by such a contentment and not only willingness but desire to fall in line with the music industry’s cogs that I wonder what the forefathers of the generation think of all this. What would KRS-One say to Lil Jon if he had an hour locked in a room alone with him?

Saul Williams - Saul WilliamsOn the other side of this schism is Saul Williams, a def-poet-turned-rapper who spits fiery phrases on top of little-to-no music. In fact, his second album is sparse and raw, the only music to be found behind Williams’ nasally epiphanies is analog instrumentation—guitars, drums, bass. In fact, the liner notes reveal a strange affiliation for a rapper—Williams thanks The Mars Volta and Zach de la Rocha.

Nowhere is the schism in hip hop more apparent then the gap between Lil Jon and Saul Williams. While BET and Hot 97 drool over the latest soon-to-be crunk classic, on the street corner someone is spitting something about reparations, the downfall of the black community, and the struggle to rise above the dregs of urban life. Once you look inside both groups and their inspirations and desires, popping Cristal and hitting the dance floor just seems so trivial.

4 thoughts on “Lil Jon – Crunk Juice / Saul Williams – Saul Williams”

  1. I saw Saul Williams perform live and it blew my mind…wide open. He was smart, passionate, politically and socially motivated, musical, and poetic all at once. I’d love to hear more about his recorded work.

  2. crunk = aural excrement

    Why not listen to this shit and prove you don’t actually like music? (Because it ain’t that).

  3. doesn’t really say dat much & it’s boring but shit i do lyke LIL JON&the EAST SIDE BOYZ CRUNK JUICE.

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