various artists :: Crunk Hits Vol. 4 :: TVT Records
as reviewed by Justin 'Tha Shiznute' Chandler

Y'know you've been there: lying there in bed late at night watching an infomercial about a compilation of music that you can recollect on the top of your head for no good reason other than the songs were immensely popular. Well, the Crunk Hits albums from TVT Records is like what those Time Life multi-CD sets are going to be like when we are old and gray. You'll want to buy it on the merit that they are all big hits, but then you might realize upon purchasing that they weren't all necessarily big hits for a good reason.

'Crunk' music is a term that is generally married to Southern rap music. A more in-depth definition can be sought on my previous review of "Crunk Hits Vol. 3." Even though "Crunk Hits Vol. 4" is mostly associated with the lower region of the United States, TVT Records does not limit itself to nothing but Lil' Jon (who arguably popularized crunk) party anthems. MIMS' mega-hit "This is why I'm Hot" joins the fold along with Fat Joe's infectious "Make It Rain", to help spread the wealth in track selection.

Like the previously mentioned tracks, most of the joints you will immediately recognize as those bangers that got your head nodding on the radio. There is no functional reason in me describing the sound of each track to great length. The songs might not have the longest run of popularity, but undoubtedly these catchy cuts are amongst the most popular in the rap genre to come out in the last couple years. "Party Like A Rockstar" made the Shop Boyz a one-hit wonder, more or less, but the soaring hard rock guitar backdrop and the sentiment of partying hard was celebrated by many bar-goers and ring tone downloaders. The essence of the crunk form of music is brought to light with songs like this that couple sing along type of hooks with verses that you pretty much just gloss over as you ride the beat out.

One of the most important elements of a good compilation album is balancing tracks. This may seem like a difficult task for an album that specifically focuses on one type of aggressive rap music, but TVT Records manages to handle this decently. They start things off with "Big Things Poppin' (Do It) by T.I., which is enough of a transition from "Party Like A Rockstar" that follows in order to keep things interesting. A lot of people will think about screwed & chopped material when thinking about what’s crunk; however there is not a tall order of such cuts aside from a few like “Money In The Bank (Remix)” by Lil Scrappy and Young Buck. It varies as much as an album about money and partying can possibly vary.

Between "Make It Rain", "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" and "I Got Them" it comes as no surprise that Weezy shows up more than anybody. It seems that every time a rap artist wants to make a hit they tap the Cash Money star for his Midas touch. "I Got Them" collaborates with Baby and showed up on Yo Gotti's album and is one of the few singles that doesn't quite fit with the weight of the others.

The best tracks on the album depend on who's listening and their taste in rap music. Either way, Jim Jones' "We Fly High (Ballin')" was all over the place last summer and influenced some of the most famous athletes to strike the pose. Meanwhile, the drug-trafficking anthem from Chamillionaire, "Ridin'", is another premium scorcher that gained such a high-level of success that it received the Weird Al Yankovich treatment, in parody.

Then there are a couple of songs that feel forced in this jumbled affair. The guitar driven "Dangerous" by the Ying Yang Twins featuring Wyclef Jean isn't frenetic enough to be considered 'crunk', even with a beat and sample switch. The former Fugee is definitely eclectic, but he'll probably never be crunk. Maybe they felt the Ying Yang Twins are a necessary addition to any 'crunk' collection. There are a few arguable points; the use of the word 'crunk' in one of the lyrics and there are moments bridging into the hook that will remind the listener of the song "Get Fucked Up" by Iconz from more than 5 years ago that introduced some to crunk. Meanwhile, Chris Brown's "Poppin'" is the only non-rap tune on here and it sticks out given that honor. TVT threw it at the end of the album, but the R&B flavor is hardly a culminating choice. If having the rights to the song made them feel like putting it on the compilation was necessitous, perhaps they should have hid it in the middle somewhere. "Act a Fool" by Lil Jon and Three Six Mafia would have presented the appropriate character in closing the album.

As long as Southern rap runs the commercial rap scene, which has been the case for the back couple of years at least, there will be more than enough songs that come out each year or so to release another volume of "Crunk Hits". They might not all be the best, but they will be there. The scope of this album seems pretty long when considering how long ago it seems like you were ballin' with Jim Jones. Somewhat surprisingly are the omissions of Soulja Boy, Rich Boy and Playaz Circle hits. Alas, that is why there are multiple volumes. Vol. 4 is a more effective effort than Vol. 3, in trying to obtain a common goal of getting listeners crunked up.

Just imagine watching a late night commercial of Crunk Hits decades down the road. Rap, in general, seems to be here to stay, but this stylized version called 'crunk' could merely be a fad, like disco. No matter the historical context, there is undeniable influence of songs like these featured of "Crunk Hits Vol. 4" by TVT Records, that will have you remembering them for years to come. For commemoration of such music, you will probably cop such compilations as "Crunk Hits" when you get older, just so you can ride dirty in your electric wheel chair.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

Originally posted: December 11, 2007