Various Artists

These tracks constitute a genre only if Louis Jordan and Frank Sinatra are part of one called Dad's Music and Ashlee Simpson and Raffi are grouped in one called Lil' Sis. Considered chronologically, some other trends emerge: before, during, and after Lil' Jon had a novelty factor; pre- and post-Caribbean; DJ Paul's dirty synths giving way to DJ Sammy's chiming ones; increasing guitar; lengthening samples. Best surprise? Timbaland also-ran protégée Ms. Jade's wide-open holler on "Are We Cuttin'" with Pastor Troy. Oh, and best folk etymology? From "crass and a monk" — like all up in your Carmina Burana, dig?

When "crunk" broke, it never turned out as gully as I had hoped — the term shot from grimy to blingin' to self-parodyin' at record speed — but this collection's expansive definition rescues the term from Lil' Jon overdose and recasts it simply as another word for the best and worst of the South.


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