Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz: Part II

Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz
Part II

This here’s the sequel (that is, quickie cash-in followup) to Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz’s enormously successful Kings of Crunk album. It includes a collection of remixes of Crunk tracks, rarities, and unreleased tracks from upcoming albums by Lil’ Jon allies like Chyna White. More importantly, there’s a DVD disc including Lil’ Jon’s best videos and a short documentary. “Get Low” was my personal favorite single of the year, but the two remixes of it presented here fall short of living up to that legacy — putting Elephant Man on the first is brilliant, as he’s just as crazy as the Ying Yang Twins were on the original. But while Busta Rhymes circa 1995 might’ve fit right in, the Busta we’ve got today is a neutered, clichéd ‘player’ without a creditable metaphor in his grip — and worse, his increasingly thin voice is irretrievably swamped by the deliciously soupy, dark production. The “Merengue Remix” hits on even fewer cylinders, speeding up the original “Get Low” lyrics over a hyper latin beat with absolutely nothing to do with the sound or feel of the original. It’s totally surreal, and sure to make no sense whatsoever to anyone outside of Miami. The rest of the songs are relatively unremarkable, including two separate songs about throwing sets, obviously birthed in the clubs but with little to offer on record.

The real attraction of the package, then, has to be the DVD portion, which nearly end-to-end delivers a crazed visual intensity to match the songs’ own apocalyptic frenzy. The various videos all take place in clubs, or places (parking lots, beaches, schoolbuses) that get turned into de facto clubs by Lil’ Jon’s mere presence. There’s also a huge goofy streak through all of them — Emannuelle Lewis gets down, Lil’ Jon pegs kids on the dodgeball court (for more child abuse humor, see also Rahzel’s milk-slingin’ “All I Know” video), and an indecipherable back-and-forth between Jon and an ice cream man gets a little help from hoity-toity subtitles (“Your payment is due, sir.”) It’s the same freewheeling spirit that gets one of the Ying Yang Twins dancing out in front of a marching band, his huge, not-quite-gangsta orthopedic shoe on unabashed display.

The clip for “Get Low”, with its foxy boxing and booty-popping barbers, has a certain cartoonish appeal, and hints at the fun-meets-fatalism of the track, but it’s frankly middle of the road compared to the best stuff on here. “Bia Bia”, with its epileptic mix of David Fincher stutters, filmstrip drift, underwater rapping (yep), and rain falling inside the club plays up the dark undertones of Lil’ Jon’s production. “Play No Games” is easily the best video here, imagining an Animal House where pillow fights turn into strip shows, Trick Daddy supervises a game of Twister, Lil’ Jon breaks in some hapless pledges, and David Banner passes out in the corner. These are some ridiculously fun videos, yet another reason to wonder why Lil’ Jon has yet to get the respect he deserves. I’ve only got one complaint: why would they put the edited version of the track on a mass-market release?

Then, there’s the piece de resistance, a short “documentary” called “Behind the Scenes with the Kings of Crunk”, which qualifies as both educational and entertaining. You’ll finally learn what “skeet” means (“to project something” — as in, water at a stripper’s assets), and I know you’ve been lusting after the true recipe for crunk juice (Hennessy and Red Bull). A bit less PBS is the sight of Lil’ Jon and Elephant Man simultaneously dry-humping two unfortunate audience members, and some downright creepy (in night vision, no less) glimpses of the bug-eyed stare that explains why Jon keeps those sunglasses on so much. In sequences at the Source Awards, on MTV, and, most notably, at a backstage tradeshow featuring free samples of booze and jewelry (“Y’all got shopping carts in here?”), Lil’ Jon comes off as pretty much the joke-cracking, fart-in-public-cutting, fuck-not-giving character you’d expect. There’s an unfortunately minimal bit of footage of Jon in the studio, but it’s enough to give some insight into the serious part of what he does — in one minute worth of quick edits, he laces some handclaps and distortion into a serious bit of crunk hookery. Like an Annie Leibowitz portrait, the documentary does little more than perpetuate the mythology that Lil’ Jon has built up around himself, but at this point in his career, I’ll take it.