Album Reviews: Crunk Juice by Lil JonLil Jon again stakes his claim as the foremost authority on crunk on this, Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz’s fifth LP. The follow-up to last year’s multi-platinum Kings of Crunk, Crunk Juice is a sprawling, 20-track affair featuring a wealth of high profile cameos from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Nas, Usher, Ludacris, Ice Cube, R. Kelly, and Pharrell Williams. Even Chris Rock turns up on a series of skits. The album stands as a hardcore response to Lil Jon’s recent commercial work with pop/R&B acts like Ciara and Usher, and the marketing angle involves presenting the album as a “true underground” record, even though it will probably outsell all of this year's underground hip-hop releases combined.
Mostly produced by Lil Jon, Crunk Juice starts out laughably angst-ridden, with tracks like "Get Crunk" and "What U Gon’ Do" (the lead single) featuring Lil Jon literally screaming self-hype at his listeners, trying a bit too hard to convince everyone that he's the best. The production is loud, the beats are deep and unimaginative, and the whole thing seems aimed at a crowd well-liquored (on Crunk Juice, no doubt). That wouldn't be a bad thing in and or itself, but unfortunately the album serves up misogyny ("Bitches Ain’t Sh*t"), overbearing aggression and other themes better suited to mean drunks than to a really rocking party.
Crunk Juice does at times express a rewarding versatility. "Da Blow," which features Gangsta Boo, is a smooth, downtempo bounce track that offers a welcome dose of calm on this largely intense album. Aggression of a slightly different variety appears on the grinding "Stop F*ckin’ Wit Me," which is produced by Rick Rubin and contains two Slayer samples.
If nothing else, the album’s sheer volume is impressive. But ultimately it's an ugly party record that will be best appreciated by very angry people. - Cory O'Malley
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