various artists :: Crunk Hits Vol. 3 :: TVT Records
as reviewed by Justin 'Tha Shiznute' Chandler

Maybe I should go back to my reference book of Rap music vocabulary and look up the word "crunk", because maybe I just don't get it. Oh yea, there it is, "Crunk": In the music world, crunk music is a kind of high energy hip hop from the south that has been gaining popularity in the last few years and crunk is also sometimes used about people who are excited or have high energy. Hmm...interesting. Basically, Lil Jon is the embodiment of what crunk music is supposed to be, though anyone can get crunk if they want to. The reason for the slang lesson is simple once you listen to TVT Records latest compilation of "crunk" material that makes up "Crunk Hits Vol. 3". Then again, maybe you can be spared the education and, instead, the execs should read this.

When you go to the stores you will notice this case pop out at you with its large, bold, diamond encrusted font. The shininess may glare so much that it distorts a potential buyers thoughts to the point they just put it on the counter for a purchase, but most will turn the case around and check out the track listing. If you are looking for strictly crunk music back there, you may be a bit disappointed. Most anyone will be familiar with most of the collection if they turn on the urban radio stations every once in awhile, or listen to rap by any other means.

The disc starts out with David Banner's ultra vulgar club banger, "Play". "Play" is a Mr. Collipark produced gem that received a lot of radio love, in much less explicit form, some months back. It is not a particularly energetic song, as crunk music goes, because Banner comes through with a soft-spoken flow over smashing percussion. This is one track that certainly belongs in the mix.

Following "Play", we are given another catchy track from southern legends and oscar winners, Three 6 Mafia with, "Poppin' My Collar". This is another great example of some of that crunk stuff. It's far less obnoxious than many other popular joints from the 3-6, so it too, is a welcome addition.

T-Pain makes two appearances on the album and most already have set opinions on both of them, "U and Dat" with E-40 and "I'm N Luv (Wit A Stripper)" featuring Mike Jones, respectively. "U and Dat" is by far the better of the two, since you only have to bare T-Pain on the chorus. T-Pain is living proof that anybody in the world can become famous with the right marketing to push them. Nonetheless, both of these joints were big time hits and cannot be argued against.

The very best this disc offers is not even really crunk music, as noted. Sure, Lil' Wayne is a southern artist and a lot of his stuff with Cash Money can be determined as such, however, despite how good "Hustler Musik" is--it ain't that crunk. It's as if someone just saw the title and made a harsh assumption when they decided to release this mix. The beat on "Hustler Muzik" is laid back, humming and very nice. The music is an introspective look at what one has to do in order to survive sometimes. It does not even fit into the very stretched boundaries of party music. The same applies to Paul Wall's sample-heavy "Girl" and Akon's "Locked Up".

Then, the Pussycat Dolls "Don't Cha" and Chris Brown's "Run It!" are oddly placed, given that they are more R&B driven tracks than most, save Busta's tight verse on the former. Another important note is that these are some of the few tracks that will appeal to female gender on this record, since crunk music is wildly misogynistic in most cases, whereas these two are softer. Nonetheless, both are genuine hits, ironically, more so than the rest of the collection.

There are some notable songs that are purely trash juice. The plan was to never hear Webstar's "Chicken Noodle Soup" ever again....for god's sake (see my 2006 Year in Review article)! "Blow the Whistle" is Too $hort at his very worst for 2:45 seconds of your life you will never get back. He's a legend in the way Luke from 2 Live Crew is a legend, but honestly, who listens to this oral-sex infatuated old man anymore? Pitbull's reggaeton addition, "Ayo Chico", is an equally rough road to travel. Finally, the very worst comes from Lil' Rob who wants to "Bring Out the Freak In You", by getting "N-A-S-T-Y-in you". The lyrics and flow on this one are ridiculously simplistic and disgusting all at once. Lil' Rob is the epitome of what is wrong with the oversaturated rap market, particularly in regards to southern artists.

"Crunk Hits Vol. 2" from TVT Records came out in August. The first part was released not too much earlier. They keep pumping out these collections of songs that they can get, or already have the rights to. Meanwhile, the people behind all of these are steadily becoming less focused on their goal in creating a crunk experience. The pool of material from which they are compiling is getting shallower and shallower, but that is not to say that there are no better options. "We Fly High (Ballin')" by Jim Jones would have been much more efficient than "Crunk Muzik", for purely quality control purposes. Jibbs' "Chain Hang Low" is another one that could have made the mix if it is so clearly oriented towards getting the party started. The list goes on and on.

Crunk music has its inherent problems because you are not going to be blown away by lyrical wizardry. However, most of the jams will have you bobbing your head, or grinding at the club. In that way, "Crunk Hits Vol. 3" is not far off on what it promotes. You have likely heard, or downloaded, 90 percent of this disc already if you're into popular Rap music. If you are not already sold by the simple mystique of the glossy cover when you arrive at the store, you'll find that the decision on whether you like the material enough to warrant a purchase is pretty simple.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10

Originally posted: January 16, 2007