If you haven’t seen Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul already, you need to get on that. Immediately. The movie takes aim at religiosity in the American South, particularly Black megachurches, their clergy, and their congregants. Honk For Jesus’ central premise—that a sex scandal would force an Atlanta church with thousands of members to close—isn’t very believable, but the film’s satire cuts deep in plenty of other places and is a riot.
Above all, the film’s leads, Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall, are fantastic. As a megachurch's pastor and first lady, respectively, both contribute to several great moments that I won’t spoil here in case you didn’t heed the aforementioned directive to peep the movie ASAP. I will, however, let it slip that there’s a key, now-viral scene that features Brown and Hall rapping along to a seminal piece of Southern hip-hop: Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck.”
The fact that the two actors didn’t know the song existed before filming the scene does not make its legacy weak. I can’t fathom having never heard this song. It’s very strange, like written-by-Rod-Serling strange, but those two were born in the 1970s, so I’ll allow it. And kudos to them for rising to the challenge, or in other words, knucking because they are buck. (Princess of Crime Mob approves, too.)
I, on the other hand, am a millennial from Texas. “Knuck If You Buck” was my very first ringtone. I’ve seen the song’s rise from a hot 2004 club track into a bonafide classic. “Knuck If You Buck” is one of the most important songs to ever come out of the South. The hit was an immediate nightclub staple that soundtracked many ass-beatings in its heyday, but at this point, it mostly serves as an infectious, high-energy mark of bravado and nostalgia. It’s an unquestioned anthem for Black folks below the Mason-Dixon line and should be for every Black person who is so lucky to be a millennial as well. The South does have something to say, after all.
“Knuck If You Buck” is first and foremost a club record, and it has a special, almost singular, distinction among them. You see, I’ve long theorized that the art of DJing is a lot like playing Spades. (The same could be said for Verzuz.) You have to choose wisely how you play your cards, or you will get yelled at. Only a fool would play the unbeatable Big Joker at the beginning of a hand. There are exceptions, sure, but an astute player will usually reserve it for middle-to-late gameplay, in an attempt to trump a competitor’s powerful cards.
“Knuck If You Buck” is one of the very few high-ranking spades in a DJ’s arsenal. It’s the type of song you never play before 1:30 am—or 30 minutes before whatever function you’re at is ending. There are a couple of songs that fall under this category, like “Back That Azz Up” and “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You),” and they serve their different purposes. You play “Back That Azz Up,” and wherever you’re at becomes a twerk-a-thon. “Int’l Players Anthem” is basically the Black “Sweet Caroline,” the whole crowd starts to rap along, especially to André 3000’s verse. You play “Knuck If You Buck,” when you need to get everyone real hype, and pray to God nobody gets their ass beat. Amen.
Watch Regina and Sterling go word-for-word on Crime Mob’s classic in the epic clip below.