Crunk music and Jon Waltz were both raised around Memphis, Tennessee. That's about where the similarities end. The shouted vocals, pounding bass and call-and-response tactics popularized in crunk music like Al Kapone's "Whoop That Trick" (s/o Hustle & Flow) only permeated the periphery of Waltz's suburban upbringing, and his music took a different tack as a result.
He came of age in a post-crunk Memphis, listening to rappers like Toronto's Drake and Childish Gambino, artists who could spit and sing in equal measure, and artist who both had an interest in pop music. Sure, Waltz looked up to Three 6 Mafia as a kid, but he recoiled early on when the press tried to brand him as the Memphis kid from the streets: “I didn’t grow up in that type of area. I’ve got family like that; I was never exposed to that. I try to come off as a very well-spoken person and I don’t try to promote that type of image," he said in a 2014 interview.
Waltz's music faces the industry's pressures head on, but in a darker, broader way than Drake. Rather than discuss one-to-one emotional turmoil and late-night texts, Waltz is more likely to bring up the big picture. His breakout hit "Bang" has been justly compared to Kendrick Lamar's "Swimming Pools (Drank)."
He's been working with producers from all over, and has come to represent a conscious rap that's quicker to draw on Samuel Beckett and Emily Dickinson as inspiration than fashion brands. A new generation of Memphis rap.