“I was going to punk clubs in the 80s, I was a skater in the 80s before it was cool.”

Lil Jon performs onstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2019 at Cobb Energy Center on October 5, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Lil Jon has opened up about crunk music‘s infectious energy and what inspired it. Appearing on the New York Times’ Popcast, the Atlanta rapper revealed that punk music and a love for skateboarding inspired his idea for it. The crunk music pioneer detailed how a visit to punk club played a significant role in the subculture’s evolution. 

“I was going to punk clubs in the 80s, I was a skater in the 80s before it was cool,” the Hip-Hop mainstay recalled. “Skateboarding honestly opened my mind to other cultures, other music. It made me be able to be in a room with people of different ethnicities and be able to have a conversation and relate, ’cause Atlanta is kind of segregated: Black people stay over here, the Mexicans over here, White people over here.

“All kind of kids is skateboarding, and we skateboarding all day. All over the city, we’re spending time together and then going to the skate contest, they’re playing [The] Faction, they’re playing Bad Brains, they’re playing Dead Kennedys. They’re playing all these bands and I’m like… all the bands are in the skate videos, ’cause we were buying the skate videos on VHS.”

As he continued, the 53-year-old veteran expressed how punk’s particular energy was naturally engrained in him. The result? It was the exuberant and jovial energy of crunk music. Additionally, Jon gave his opinion on Hip-Hop and how much the genre has evolved. 

“All of this to say I’ve been in the real punk clubs, I’ve been in real mosh pits, I’ve seen real punk bands, so I know the energy of that.”

“When you make music, your spirit is recorded into the songs,” he recalled. “So my energy from being in those punk clubs—that spirit, that energy—is going into the music. I used to pattern myself on stage like [Bad Brains’ frontman] H.R… The way he is on stage or was on stage, his energy, and his unpredictability. He let the music take over him.”

But this isn’t the first time that Lil Jon has mentioned crunk music in the same vein as punk. He actually released an LP entitled Crunk Rock in 2010. The ambitiously genre-bending work included soundscapes from hip-hop, Eurodance, pop, punk, and crunkcore—a genre consisting of crunk with heavy metal. Crunk Rock features contributions from Soulja Boy, Waka Flocka Flame, Pastor Troy, The Game, Elephant Man, Ice Cube, Whole Wheat Bread, R. Kelly, Mario, Pleasure P, Ying Yang Twins, and more. 

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