When I moved to San Diego in 2004, my apartment wasn’t exactly in the best part of town. It wasn’t in the ghetto, but it definitely wasn’t La Jolla either. Anyway, one of my neighbors would blare some loud rap-like music with unintelligible lyrics.
My Introduction to Crunk Music
The only understandable words were “If you don’t give a damn, we don’t give a fuck!” screamed in a repeated manner to the point where if you were listening on vinyl, you would swear the record was skipping, until they screamed “Don’t start no shit, it won’t be no shit!”, also in a repeated manner. I had no idea what this music was so naturally I did an internet search and found that the song was called “Damn“, performed by Youngbloodz featuring Lil’ Jon.
At first I didn’t understand the cause vs. effect relationship between one person or group of people not giving a damn and another group of people not giving a fuck. Why would whether or not you gave a damn influence my giving a fuck. I didn’t think it would matter, BUT I WAS WRONG!
Enter Malcolm Gladwell
For those of you who don’t know who Malcolm Gladwell is, let me introduce. Malcolm Gladwell is a British-born Canadian writer who has written such books as The Tipping Point and Outliers. In The Tipping Point, Gladwell discusses factors that lead to urban decay. One of the phenomena he noted was that if a building were to be vandalized and not repaired (he uses broken windows as an example) then it would continue to be vandalized and other buildings in the vicinity would also be vandalized. Conversely, he noted that if a building was vandalized and then repaired then the vandals would give up and stop vandalizing the neighborhood. This perfectly explains the lyrics in the song mentioned above: If you don’t give a damn (about us wrecking your shit) then we don’t give a fuck (and will keep on wrecking your shit).
The Origin of Crunk
Those of you who are familiar with crunk music may think the term originated in the Memphis music scene in the mid 1990s. You would be wrong! The first use of the term “crunk” was in 1972 by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, in his book Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! when he describes a “Crunk-Car.”
As always…your comments are welcome.