Various Artists - Punk Goes Crunk
Record Label: Fearless Records
Release Date: April 8, 2008
Few phases in life shaped me more than my stint as a rap protégé. As suburban white kids, it was our duty, nay, our right to create bad beats on stolen computer programs. We were The Chronicle Brothers and we were all the rage. The collective was a clique-spanning wonder. We had computer nerds (DicKtion), we had football players (Baby Boom) and we had choir kids (Hawkeye and Streamline). Most of the raps were about an old lady named Midge Jones and the disgusting things we would do to her. If you had asked me back then, I would’ve definitely said “Inspect My Gadget” was a modern musical wonder. It had a hook that didn’t quit and a real understanding of the game. Now, though, I’m not so sure what we were thinking. Maybe it was a good thing Myspace shut us down for being too profane. (“Metallurgy" is still a club banger, though.) We were young, dumb and blinded by extreme cases of senioritis. So my question to the artists on Punk Goes Crunk is this: What are your excuses?
As I see it, there are two paths to creation on this compilation. There’s the serious route, which Emanuel took by basically recreating the Purple Ribbon All-Stars smash “Kryptonite” to the letter. They added a few gang vocals and a more formidable guitar riff, but not really anything else. Set Your Goals, however, embraced the lunacy of this whole thing and finally figured out what Lil’ Jon has been missing: a verse by Yoda. Which do I prefer? In this case, well, neither. The Yoda thing is funny on paper, but it’s annoying to actually hear over and over. Emanuel will never be durrtyy and they should have switched things up more. Not surprisingly, Max Bemis wins the prize for most interesting version of a song. His take on ODB’s “I Got Your Money” has huge handclaps, a nasty bassline and the hook is still infectious, even when being sung in falsetto by dirty scene dudes. Bemis tailors the lyrics to fit his unique style and this gives the song a standalone quality.
Too many bands on Punk Goes Crunk try to sound like T-Pain in tight pants. The Secret Handshake takes all the dynamics out of Skee-Lo’s delivery by covering the singer’s voice in jumpy electronics. My American Heart does a great job of updating the beat on “California Love” with a fuzzy haze, but the layering and layering and layering of glass-shattering, high-pitch voice modulation makes the song nearly unbearable. However, The Maine’s version of Akon’s “I Wanna Love You” might be the only song to improve on its predecessor. The song has a groovy drum section full of high hat and its lack of gimmicky electronics is a welcomed change. Person L also leaves the effects behind by doing a safe, cover-by-number’s version of The Roots’ “The Seed (2.1).” This song, along with All Time Low’s “Umbrella” cover, suffers from overplay-itis. We’ve heard these tracks a million times before, and with minimal tricks or departures in style, it’s very easy to skip them.
The biggest surprise of the comp is definitely Scary Kids Scaring Kids’ adaptation of the Notorious B.I.G. and Bone Thugz ‘N Harmony opus “Notorious Thugs.” The dark gangsta rap atmosphere is wonderfully recreated, especially in the homage to Biggie’s verse. This must have been a daunting song to tackle, but the obvious care taken here makes the song shine. Sadly, the update of Krayzie’s verse is too goofy, even considering who’s being covered. The “rapper’s” voice is grating to say the least, and when spitting lines like, “Thuggin’ wit me killas / Need us a liter of liquor / But N***** ain’t got shit,” he is less than believable. Even the best song on Punk Goes Crunk has major flaws. Still, this song is an exercise in compromise, something that should have been a higher priority for most of the artists. You can definitely hear SKSK’s presence in the heavy bassline and shouted backing vocals, but the history and, umm, realness of this song is preserved and respected. If only P.Diddy (he co-produced the original), and SKSK for that matter, still had songs like this in them.
There’s more I could say, but most of it would be negative. I’ve whined quite enough. It’s just that the gap between these “punk” stars and the rap artists being covered is, for the most part, too big to ignore. This compilation isn’t going to get pop-punk kids into rap, and I’m sure it will offend more than a few hip-hop aficionados. There should be great amounts of discretion applied when covering songs. If Fearless can’t guarantee quality, it simply shouldn’t be releasing this type of record.
It's sad that only six out of fifteen songs are even worthy of a listen. Some of these bands completely rape these songs, especially FTSK and TSH. I enjoy HRC's cover of Snoop Dogg and I think NFG's cover is good but not very recognizable.
Either way, you spoke the truth and I wish Fearless would give this series up and do something worth listening to the entire way through rather than a pick-and-choose comp.