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What is CRUNK and what does it mean?

May 12, 20238 min read

“In Hip Hop, slang is the currency of cool. It's the vernacular of a generation, the heartbeat of the streets, and the key to unlocking the culture's true essence.” - Bakari Kitwana

What does CRUNK mean?

If you browse the web, this is what you will find as the definition of CRUNK:

The term "crunk" is also used to describe a state of mind or behavior that is wild, energetic, and uninhibited.

I'm sorry people, but this definition is ABSOLUTELY wrong.

It is highly denotative, and without the connotative meanings, its "truth" is lost in pop culture.

Let's go a bit deeper.

The history of CRUNK

I have been using the term CRUNK since I was a child in L.O. Kimberly Elementary School in Atlanta Georgia.

For Native ATLiens, it has always meant the exact same thing:

An energized state of awareness that allows its "possessor" to achieve supernatural results.

The key element to the definition of CRUNK is that it describes a "state of being and/or awareness."

It has nothing to do with "The Mind" or with "Logical Thought," because when you get deeper into Hip Hop, you'll discover this is nearly the "Opposite" or "Enemy" of Creativity.

This is the "Surface" Definition of CRUNK, but let's go a bit deeper.

I have traced CRUNK back to three concepts in antiquity:

  • Nirvana

  • Atonement

  • Falling Love


Key concept: Nirvana

Historical Origin: The continent of India (3,000 BC)

The eastern religions conjure up images of Buddhists, of monks, and of ancient ceremonies and rituals.

And these religions contain our first clue.

It is a simple word defining a powerful concept.

It suggests that we have the potential to find peace, the kind of peace that Christianity has promised us for thousands of years.

Known in the west as Nirvana, it is an ancient Sanskrit term that describes the "profound peace of mind that is acquired with liberation."

Better translated, it is the state of being free from suffering.

This is part one of our search for the secret of Crunk and what it truly means.

And our next clue can be found in the only theological term of English origin that dates back to the 16th century.


Key concept: Atonement

Historical Origin: England (1500s, copied from Antiquity)

Our second clue is also a word.

The word is associated with God.

With Mythology.

With Christianity.

And its creation is a simple translation that endures the Crusades of the Dark Ages.

And it begins with one man's driving passion to share truth with the world.

William Tyndale, a 16th century priest and scholar, seeks a way that he can share the Hebrew Bible with the rest of the world.

There is ONLY one problem.

Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is scarce in England, so the oral traditions provide no viable options.

However, his world changes forever when Johannes Gutenberg creates the printing press and the new medium of print allows for an incredibly wide distribution.

Soon, word spreads of Tyndale's dream and he is banned from performing such heresy in England.

After relocating to Germany, he begins his life's work and while translating, he comes upon a strange and difficult term.


Which translates "as one."

And William is sidetracked.

How do I combine this concept with that of God and still translate this term?

Will it make sense in English?

Unlike Lil Joh, William is very aware of the implications of his decision and he spends days upon days thinking.


He realizes, the truth will not come from scholarship, but from dreaming, and he goes within and leaps into the corners of his imagination.

Finally the answer comes to him.

William translates the term as "atonement," which literally means at-one-with-God.

However, for his passion and for being Crunk, William Tyndale is burned at the stake in 1536.

His last words are, "Lord open the king of England's eyes," and even though it's been nearly 500 years, his request is being answered today.

Despite his small and forgotten task, the humble origins of the term atonement, Tyndale's contribution provides us with the second clue in our search for what crunk really means and his death is not in vain.

Nirvana is the first clue (a state of being).

Atonement is the second clue (union).

How does a state of being relate to being united with God?

And to answer that question, our search leads us to the final clue.

A clue so important that it is larger than pop culture, hip hop, money, and even family.

Falling in Love

Key concept: Falling in Love

Historical Origin: Lost in Antiquity

It's what differentiates men from boys.

It's what takes girls into womanhood.

For perhaps millions of years, the bond between man and woman has been the one constant.

It's been the rage of teens throughout time.

The concept of falling in love has captured the imagination of human beings and has been the domain of poets, writers, philosophers, musicians, and artists.

This western concept is synonymous with romance, with love, with God, and with our divine birthright.

It is defined as moving from being neutral to being "in love" with someone.

And this definition, being in love, is important because it differentiates itself from the plain version of love.

For instance, many teenage girls spout the following line:

Yes I love my parents, but I am IN LOVE with my boyfriend!

And we find ourselves with the third clue.

The frenzied and powerful intoxicating condition of being IN LOVE!

With our three clues, we should be able to trace how Crunk evolved into its current form:

  • First, we have Nirvana (state of being).

  • Then, we have Atonement (union with God).

  • Now, we have falling love (frenzied and heightened state of existence).

From these three concepts, we are given a glimpse of what it means to be CRUNK.

To be at peace, at one with God, and in a frenzied and heightened state of existence.

Definitely, the kind of thing that we should be striving to achieve, but somehow, we have eluded seeking its rewards.

Whether we were tricked by Lil Jon's answer or our laziness in not looking for the truth, we're left to juggle between the world and what we want.

The saving grace of Crunk lies in what is not being said.

Inherent in being Crunk is the distant idea that we MUST leave the world of doing and focus on what is within.

We must learn to Be.

A simple concept, but in our fast-paced technological world, almost impossible to achieve.

Stop doing.

and just.


Like its forefathers, those early adherents to the Nirvana concept, Crunk has maintained its pureness simply through the aesthetic experience.

Many ATL dancers, all generations, have collaborated on a sensation that has been dubbed "catching fire," whereby a dancer or a group performs at a "frenzied" pace and captures the imagination of the audience, thus forming that divine bond which was initially established as being at-one-with-God.

So, we must look at Crunk as the latest incarnation of what is within us, our spiritual longing, our divine yearning.

Christians call it The Holy Spirit.

Philosophers call it the soul.

Many ancient religions purport that God's essence lies dormant in our DNA.

Maybe, what we term Crunk is simply a social mechanism of our DNA, a spiritual puberty period whereby humanity unlocks the doors of our divine nature and we unleash the God Potential that lies within us all.

I’m excited, now you’re ready - let’s discuss Crunk!

Personifying the term CRUNK

Key Concept: The Savior Arrives:

Historical Origin: Crunk and Turn Up

Here's a better definition of CRUNK.

CRUNK - When a person taps into their inner SOUL BEING and this divine connection causes the person's outer being (body) to exhibit a high-pitched vibrational frenzy imbued with HIGH DOSES and JOLTS of Energy and/or Passion.

Crunk is a Derivative term that stems from the LITERAL meaning of the word in its present tense, CRANK.

To Crank is defined as “turning the crankshaft to start an engine.”

In essence, getting CRUNK means “tapping” into your higher self or divine self and this “connection” is WHAT WE SEE, but the person that is CRUNK experiences this as an awareness, sense of being, or an intense EMOTIONAL beingness.


Now that you've been given the key concepts and the historical origins of the term CRUNK, you can use its Connotative Clothing to grasp a full and complete definition of the term CRUNK.

Let's be silly and revisit that definition floating around the web.

The term "crunk" is used to describe a state of mind or behavior that is wild, energetic, and uninhibited.

Surely, this definition is nearly the "OPPOSITE" of the term CRUNK.

Be Thankful that you are getting the TRUTH from a Primary Source and you have not been swayed by the Fake News permeating the Web.

Homework Questions

  1. Is CRUNK rooted in deep spiritual concepts from Antiquity?

  2. How is CRUNK related to a 3,000 year old concept from the continent of India?

  3. What are the 3 key concepts that comprise CRUNK?

  4. What is CRUNK's denotative meaning?

  5. What is CRUNK's connotative meaning?

  6. Why is the pop culture definition of CRUNK short-sighted?

  7. How does CRUNK as a term relate to the genre of music?

  8. Did you know CRUNK Music came from the A?

  9. Do you know who started CRUNK Music?

  10. How does CRUNK music relate to Bass Music in General?

  11. How does CRUNK relate to Miami Bass?

  12. How does CRUNK relate to Hip Hop Music?

  13. How does CRUNK relate to Trap Music?

  14. Is CRUNK before or after Trap Music?

  15. Is Kilo Ali considered a CRUNK Artist?

  16. Why is Mother Hip Hop considered the Source of ATL Hip Hop?

  17. Why is Hip Hop personified as a Feminine Force in the early days of ATL Hip Hop?

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Miquiel Banks

Miquiel Banks is the Power behind his Educational Site, The Hip Hop Evangelist. His site is dedicated to cultivating and preserving ATL Hip Hop and Yeek Culture.

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