dRED-i want to do the impossible: give left-coast depth to shallow Southern crunk. Crunk is merely party music. Even early hiphop had more to it than being the life of a party—Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks," for example. Crunk doesn't aspire to any kind of thought, it's not oriented to a future or a past, for that would take mental effort. Crunk has no substance. The life of a crunk track doesn't go beyond the moment it's playing; crunk is pure presence: a total here and now. The end of the track is the end of crunk.

There's no reason to pay close attention to what a crunk rapper is saying or what the music is doing; crunk is like booty tech; it's a void waiting to be filled by the vibrations of a body. Can a music like this be salvaged, raised from the mud (the Southern mud) and be fitted, tooled for an actual function, a political purpose that expresses the history of black American suffering, exposes the evils of capitalism, racism, the police state, and go as far as to offer solutions to these problems? Can it actually think for itself and others? Many will say impossible; Seattle's dRED-i says it is possible, and that's the crew's defining project: to revolutionize one of the least revolutionary forms of music.

From dRED-i's manifesto: "We want [revolutionary crunk] to assure that all four elements [dancing, rapping, graffiti, turntablism] of HIPHOP MUSIC are seen, heard, and represented to the fullest. We want [it] to share: information, resources, musical concepts, and positive inner-G with our fellow musicians, fans, friends and supporters... To showcase to the world the Scorpio City, Seattle. The city which has been called 'the city of the future.' So the HIPHOP scene which comes from here should be a futuristic movement. This is what is meant by 'The Solidification.' To give inspiration to the uninspired. We want [it] to bring the fifth element of HIPHOP (knowledge) back to the block where hiphop was born." That seems like a tall order for a genre that, since its birth (10 or so years ago), has had little more on its mind than shaking its thing, getting drunk, getting crunk.

Moorpheus Magnetik, the founder of dRED-i and the composer of the manifesto, knows what crunk is about, knows it's focused on the low-end; but he also believes that if the low-end is married to a social message, then that message will reach a wider audience. In the EP Revolutionary Crunk Muzik, dRED-i's theory is realized with this result: a sound (bouncy bass, bright synthesizers) that feels empty, and raps that often have a sense of urgency and also a sense of geography—the Central District, which dRED-i represents. However, the raps are not all about overcoming the realities of living between the "overseer and the undertaker," the police occupation of the inner city, and other social ills caused by poverty. MCs Magnetik and Han Solo also have time for pleasures with which traditional crunk is long familiar—getting rubs from seriously stacked sisters ("Slow up lady/I like your ambition/Ass like that/got my attention"), and cutting the rug in the club ("That's it, throw your hands way up high/I like that music/that's the dRED-i").

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dRED-i aren't wholly committed to revolutionary politics; like life in the hood (or anywhere else, for that matter), the duo offer a mix of positive and negative experiences. Also, they never raise their voices and yell at dancers like drill sergeants, a practice that nearly all crunkers can't do often enough. The music might be that "bass from south," but the rapping is firmly West Coast. But even if the substance of dRED-i's project (to salvage crunk) were to meet with some success, wouldn't the form ultimately take control of the content and drown out the message? That is the essential problem, which, as exciting as the idea of Revolutionary Crunk Muzik might be, has yet to be resolved.

To match the intensity of its revolutionary content, Public Enemy revolutionized the form of the music itself. If dRED-i want to protect their message from the market forces with which crunk has long colluded, they might have to do the same. dRED-i is a work in progress.

charles@thestranger.com