In 2004 with the help of Lil’ Scrappy, five teens from Atlanta dropped what would become one of rap’s most celebrated club anthems. But Crime Mob’s hit single “Knuck If You Buck” isn’t about dancing at all. It’s about fighting. If Princess’ first line in the song (“Yea we knuckin’ and buckin’ and ready to fight”) provides any warning, “Knuck If You Buck” is definitely the slap-somebody-in-the-face type of music (as it has often caused actual fights at parties). And even if you can’t fight, “Knuck If You Buck,” with its ghostly keyboard beats and Crime Mob’s truculent lyrics, will instantly make any listener inherit the spirit of wanting to knock someone out.
Fifteen years after its release, it’s still a Black cultural staple. Solange sampled Diamond and Princess on her latest album When I Get Home and invited them to perform “Knuck If You Buck” at her Met Gala after-party this year. It’s also arguably the most defining song of early 2000s crunk, one of rap’s most unforgettable eras that brought up-tempo Southern beats by the likes of Lil Jon, Three 6 Mafia and the Ying Yang Twinz to the mainstream. To commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of “Knuck If You Buck,” we pulled together a collection of other crunk songs that your early-to-mid 2000s club experience would’ve been incomplete without:
“Back That Azz Up” by Juvenile feat. Mannie Fresh and Lil Wayne:
The official ass-shaking anthem’s opening line (“Cash Money Records taking over for the 99 and 2000”) is probably the most iconic and foreshadowing introductions in rap history. When listeners hear the violin intro the beginning of a song (which turned 20 in February), the message is pretty clear: Ready. Set. Twerk. And don’t stop.
“Swag Surfin” by Fast Life Youngstaz (2009):
Ten years ago, this jubilant classic introduced the world to Fast Life Yungstaz and became a dance craze for generations of Black people. Whether it’s played at sporting events or parties, “Swag Surfin” is a cue for Black people anywhere in the vicinity to participate.
“Wipe Me Down” by Boosie Badazz Feat. Foxx and Webbie (2007):
“Shoulders, chest, pants, shoes” became a trademark for Boosie’s most popular single.
“Goodies” by Ciara feat. Petey Pablo (2004):
Before Megan Thee Stallion’s “hot girl summer,” Ciara gave women a sexy summertime anthem in 2004 with “Goodies.” Her debut single, which appropriately gave her the title of Princess of Crunk, introduced the world to an 18-year-old Ciara who added sex appeal to Atlanta’s crunk scene. With killer dance moves and the sultry vocals to match, Ciara made it clear that although she knew she was hot, that didn’t mean it would be easy for a man to sweep her off her feet.
“Freek-A-Leek” by Petey Pablo (2003):
This Lil Jon-produced track became Petey Pablo’s breakout single. Although its misogynistic lyrics likely wouldn’t fit well in today’s climate (as Pablo says women’s names as if he’s checking things off a grocery list), “Freek-A-Leek” is still a crunk era classic.
“Yeah” by Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris (2004):
“Yeah” is another Lil Jon-produced crunk anthem. Yes, this song has probably been played a million times, but that doesn’t erase the brilliance of Lil Jon making a crunk classic that fused the genre with R&B. It also cemented his catchphrase. Yeah!
“Get Low” by Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz (2003):
This classic twerk anthem solidified Lil Jon as the rightful heir to the crunk throne. The drumbeat at the beginning of “Get Low” cues listeners to instantly “bend over to the front and touch your toes,” shaking anything and everything from the windows to the wall.
Content Credit: vice