5 Things You Didn't Know About "Knuck If You Buck"

A new oral history reveals previously unknown details about the classic crunk song.

crime mob

Image via Getty/Johnny Nunez/WireImage

crime mob

If you’ve ever been out at a club, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve heard a little song called “Knuck If You Buck.” In the 14 years since the Crime Mob cut debuted in 2004, you’ve likely listened to the song while seeing some elbows thrown, some good-natured jostling—and you might even have peeped a fight or two. The song simply stirs up unparalleled amounts of energy.

If you’ve ever stopped to wonder about the origins of the track and the group that created it, I'm here to tell you something: we don't have to ponder ourselves into oblivion any longer. In the latest episode of black culture podcast The Nod, hosts Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings and reporter Wallace Mack provide an extended, 40-minute oral history of “Knuck If You Buck.” The show features interviews with Crime Mob members Lil Jay, Princess and Diamond, and a couple other guests who shed light on how impactful the song is to this day.

Without further ado, here are the five most surprising things we learned about “Knuck If You Buck” and the group that made it.

Lil Jay and Princess are siblings, military brats who settled with their family in Ellenwood, Georgia as kids. In an interview, Princess remembered the dynamics between her and her older brother, and how she became a part of Crime Mob—and, ultimately, “Knuck If You Buck.”   

“Growing up, when he did baseball, I did baseball,” Princess said. “When he did karate, I did karate. When he started basketball, I started basketball. You know, everything he did, I did. So when he started rapping, I was like, ‘Okay, we rappers now. That's what we doing. That's fine.’"

It may not be a huge surprise, but Lil Jay says the group name Crime Mob was inspired by real-life activities. “During those days, niggas used to do a lot of robbing and thieving, doing all that shit, some hot shit, ya feel me?” he said. “But we kinda connected on some music shit. It's like, ‘Damn, he rap. He got somethin' goin' on. We already a clique. We already from Ellenwood. So, bam, man, let's start a group.’ We had a whole list of names. It was this name, that name, that name, that name, that name—we circled Crime Mob. ’Cause we was doing crime, and we was a big ass fuckin' mob.”

Princess says the name simply reflects the environment the group came up in. “I think violence played a part in us growing up, just because that was what we saw at that time,” she said. “So we—as music should be—you take in what's around you, and you document it. That's what classic songs are.”

We all know the beat for “Knuck If You Buck” inside and out, thanks to not just the first iteration, but also “Juju on That Beat,” the 2016 viral dance challenge remix that borrowed Lil Jay’s production, sound for sound. According to Lil Jay, the iconic beat was inspired by a real-life brawl at his house. But the most memorable element of it, the high-pitched dings, came from an unlikely place.

“Summer 2002, I made the beat,” Lil Jay said. “And in my mind, I'm imagining that fuckin’ fight that happened at my momma house. Like, ‘Damn, this nigga got his ass whooped.’ It's like, one streetlight on. And I'm thinking about that bell, where that bell came from, from that fuckin' streetlight. So, I made the beat.”

“Knuck If You Buck” was such a fast, smash success that the crew didn’t have an opportunity to present a cleaned-up version to the local masses. “Our first version that was played [on the radio] wasn't mixed,” Princess said. “It damn sure wasn't mastered. So much so that you could hear the garage door coming up in the background in the audio. You can hear my mom talking. You can hear her heels clacking. It was so crazy, but that's how crazy the demand for the song was: they couldn't find a version suitable for radio, and they still played it.”

Crime Mob was managed by an allegedly shady figure named Serious early on. According to the group members, the deal was egregious and did more harm than good. “Serious is crazy as hell,” Diamond said. “He knew damn well, even when we found out about them contracts being messed up—we requested a copy of the contracts, he gon’ black out most of the parts that are fucked up in the contract.”

Princess broke down what ultimately ended up happening. “When we started, we wasn't making any money,” she said. “After we got signed, we weren't making any money. Our advance, which everybody usually say they finna get signed and buy they mama a house, and a car, and jewelry—we got a thousand dollars each, in cash.”

“We wasn’t getting none of our publishing or royalties,” Princess continued. “We didn’t know about it. We didn’t know about publishing or royalties. Not in high school. And when you on the radio, and you poppin' in the city, everything look good. And you hope that this person you put your trust into, they can have your career in everybody's best interest. But that wasn't the case with Crime Mob.”

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