The 2000s may have been the best time to be a rockstar, but now is the best time to be a black rockstar. Memphis’ Duke Deuce is igniting the New Music Friday playlist with his new single “CRUNKSTARZ” from Quality Control Music and Motown Records. Scroll about three-fourths of the way down and there it is, in all capital letters, the newly reimagined rock-rap mashup. The cover art features the anarchy “A,” a punky font, and about six hands making the “rock on” symbol.
The accompanying music video was released in tandem with the single, centering an unsmiling Duke Dumont in deep-tinted sunglasses and black overalls in an industrial warehouse. Perhaps in a nod to punk rock culture, he also dons Doc Martins and dangly earrings alongside his chains and sideways-turned hat. The spinning, whirling and quick-cutting of the camera jumps along with every turn of the song’s beat. A high pitched key whistles behind the lyrics as if it’s stringing the crowd along in a linear progression of “YEA”s that are shouted from the crowd after every bar.
So what is a Crunkstar? Duke Deuce clearly defines it at the front and back end of the video in an open journal surrounded by witchy looking candles arranged in a shrine, reading “CRUNKSTAR… a person that is unafraid to live life as themself” – Duke Deuce. The term crunk itself is described as, “crunk borrows heavily from Miami bass and 1980s-era call-and-response hip-hop. Heavy use of synthesized instruments and sparse, truncated 808 drums are staples of the crunk sound. Looped, stripped-down drum machine rhythms are usually used.” Memphis has been known for their crunk style, and Duke Deuce has added his own elements of punk and rock.
Among Duke Deuce’s Crunkstar movement, there have been several distinct divergences of black rappers who make music leading the evolution of sub-categories that are gaining traction including rock-rap (iann dior, Kenny Mason, Trippie Redd, Lil Wayne’s Rebirth album), country-outlaw rap (see Lil Nas X, Yung Thug, Breland, Shaboozey), and hyperpop-rap (JELEEL!, Cochise, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Tecca, Sofaygo) to name a few.