It’s worth noting that before Lil Jon became a household name in the music world, with his trademark “WHAT?!” and “YEAHHHH!” interjections becoming widely imitated, Jon was better known as a local deejay in Atlanta who parlayed his connections into becoming the lead A&R for Jermaine Dupri at So So Def. This in turn led to Jon creating the “So So Def Bass All Stars” compilation albums, and the success of these releases in turn inspired Jon to create his own version of an “All Stars” crew known as the East Side Boyz. At this point Jon’s name and fame have long since eclipsed these origins, but at the time of “Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album” he was still a regional figure on the rise. Jon is credited with popularizing the term “crunk” but it would be equally fair to say the East Side Boyz popularized HIM with songs like “Who U Wit.”

Lyrically the song is an absolute nothing burger, and musically there’s barely a bun surrounding this meatless entree. The entirety of this song’s success is the 1990’s version of going viral, long before services like YouTube, SoundCloud and TikTok existed. The song’s simplicity was tailor made for being memorable. It was the “Gucci Gang” of its time. The bass and the claps made it perfect for stunting and showing off your swag, and the drunker you were while listening, the more likely you were to shout “{insert your city’s name here} don’t give a fuck” in the club. The song doesn’t exist to provoke deep thoughts — it exists to ERASE them. It’s a song for dancing and fucking, and the follow up song “Shawty Freak a Lil Sumtin'” was that times ten thousand.

Yeah I know the video quality is terrible, but it was uploaded to YouTube in 2008 and nobody has ever bothered to rip and post a better version. (Now watch the clip disappear due to a copyright claim and be replaced with a new one uploaded by Jon or his representatives. If so I’ll replace it.) Either way the standard was set for Jon and the Boyz going forward. Their music was strictly made for partying, and if you wanted everybody to have a good time, you’d put away the thinking man’s rap and pick up a bottle of Hennessy. If you’re searching for depth in songs about getting your freak on like “Cut Up” then you are fo’ sho’ looking in the wrong place.

The most remarkable thing about “Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album” might be how non-essential Lil Jon is to the album. I suspect at this point he was so used to being a deejay, an A&R, and a radio show host that it didn’t even occur to him to be the star of his crew. As much as I miss his trademark yelling and energy on this release, it could also be viewed as refreshing that the East Side Boyz and the guest rappers are at the forefront here. It could also be viewed as a tribute to Miami Bass at times, with songs like “Giddy Up Let’s Ride” featuring Disco Rick not even hiding that influence one bit. If Luther Campbell had shown up on the track I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.

I’m not here to tell you the debut album of Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz is a must-have album. Far from it. You can see how they invented the formula for their future success here, and there are some definite party rocking anthems, but it lacks the exaggerated personality that made future releases more CRUNK than this one. Every success story has to start somewhere though and I’m glad Lil Jon got his foot in the door at So So Def and eventually kicked that industry door right off the hinges with a gasoline can full of crunk juice.

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz :: Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album
4.5Overall Score