The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

Subgenre of the Week: Crunkcore

We live in an age where our postmodern sensibilities have translated into flourishing musical creativity. This, paired with the death of radio, has lead to the creation of nearly every subgenre imaginable. But how do you keep track of them all? Each week, we here at the Quest do our best to help you make sense of all this alternativeness.

In case you thought the world was going to make it past 2012, I introduce you to the genre of crunkcore. Auto-tune, heavy metal, hip-hop, and bad white-boy rapping seem like an unlikely combination, but with bands like brokeNCYDE and Breathe Carolina leading the movement, the genre is sweeping the nation like wildfire. So even if the world survives past doomsday, the future of music is looking pretty bleak.

It’s easy to confuse crunkcore for modern day punk metal. People who identify with both genres typically dress very, very similarly—think neon wardrobe from Hot Topic, complimented by emo tattoos and snakebite piercings. It’s like Travis Barker impregnated Rainbow Brite during her turbulent adolescent years. For these guys, scene lives on, much to the dismay of the rest of society.

So what separates crunkcore from good-ol’, day-glo, electro-rock-pop-metal? Well, for starters, it’s a hell of a lot louder; thumping 808s pulsate under thrashing guitar riffs and screamo shouting. That said, the live concerts are a lot of fun if you don’t value your hearing all that much.

Also, members of these bands adapt a stage name to complete their gangsta identity. Some examples are Phat J, Chap Stique, and Johnny 3 Tears. Basically, the concept of cool has completely been lost on these folks, but they couldn’t care less.

The lyrics of crunkcore are typically a lot cruder, too. Punk rock outfits usually sing about love and angst, but crunkcore is all about being offensively misogynistic— and getting you to dance and sing along, regardless of this. Take, for example, Hollywood Undead’s hit single, “Everywhere I Go”:

“When I start drinking/My dick does all my thinking/Hoes wanna be seen with me/And I like their big thick titties!”

Hollywood Undead isn’t alone in their affection for hoes. brokeNCYDE also share this sentiment in “FreaXXX”:

“Sexy mama give it to me like you need some love/I got some bottles in the caddy that we can open up…I got these bitches all tipsy trying to sex me.”

Never mind that it’s probably dad’s Caddy, and the bottles were stolen from his liquor cabinet as well. These kids think they are awesome. And they’re shamelessly proud of it, too. In fact, it seems that all of these bands are proud of never managing to move out of their parents’ homes. Raps Charlie Scene of Hollywood Undead, “Wake up/grab beer/grab rear/shave beard/put on some scene gear/gotta get drunk before my mom wakes up/break up with my girlfriend so I can bang sluts.”

3OH!3 also boast about their living situation in “Richman”:

“I’ll run it like a marathon party till I’m fifty/wake up at my parents’, cops still out to get me.”

Apparently, growing up is the last thing on their mind. Old enough to drink but young enough (in their eyes) to still mooch off Mom and Dad is the perfect place to be. Life can be one never-ending party, and you don’t even have to pay rent!

Watching too many Lil’ Jon videos has left crunkcore artists with the notion that they are now somehow qualified to rep their hood. brokeNCYDE hails from “Albucrazy”, New Mexico, and 3OH!3 put their area code in their name. And their songs are full of shout-outs: “This is for the C-O 3-0-3, my people/we’ve got the music that you can’t stand still to,” rap the duo in their song “Don’t Dance”.

Family Force 5, a (surprise, surprise) five-piece outfit hailing from ATL, are constantly referring to their ties to the dirrty dirrty, devoting a whole song to being raised in the south: “Kountry Gentleman” is an ode to mullets and tailgating and fried chicken. Classy.

Of course these lyrics are absurd, and in most cases, ridiculously shocking. But crunkcore songs tend to be really catchy, which is problematic. In an interview with MTV, Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low said of crunkcore: “You have all these kids coming up on Disney pop who then discover bands like brokeNCYDE, and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, they said fuck!’ and they fall in love instantly, because it’s their version of ’80s punk.”

For some seriously concerned parents (and understandably so—how would you feel about your kids suddenly throwing around lines like “I’mma hit you from the back and make you holler till you pass out”?), not all crunkcore is as, well, aggressive. Family Force 5, for example, is just as loud as its contemporaries, but their lyrics are much tamer. So while they’re silly, and have names like Crouton and Soul Glow Activatur, they don’t sing about parties where models got cocaine-induced nosebleeds while the lead singer did body shots off their bellies. Breathe Carolina, another band considered to be crunkcore, are also much less offensive, sticking to topics of a much milder nature.

So what’s going to happen to crunkcore? Will it go mainstream? While still a relatively underground phenomenon, 3OH!3 has already broken into the Top 40 multiple times. That’s saying a lot for a genre that has received nothing but negative press from the media. Says the Los Angeles Times, of brokeNCYDE: “[They’ve] done for MySpace emo what some think Soulja Boy did for hip-hop: turn their career into a kind of macro-performance art that exists so far beyond the tropes of irony and sincerity that to ask ‘are they kidding?’ is like trying to peel an onion to get to a perceived central core that, in the end, does not exist and renders all attempts to reassemble the pieces futile.”

But the fans and artists themselves couldn’t care less. As brokeNCYDE embarks on their Ka$h for Ku$h tour, I checked in on the band member’s Twitter accounts. “Bumpin dubstep in the Yellow Bus. High out of my mind. HA!” tweets Se7en, lead vocalist. “Killin’ a goose!!” tweets Antz, another band member. Obviously, the haters aren’t going to stop these guys from having a considerably good time. It seems as if the party won’t stop until they are physically unable to keep chugging 40s and their thug lyfe tattoos have sagged into illegible nonsense.

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