Krump – the Aesthetics of Rage

The documentary ‘Journey to Heaven‘ by Kaizen Pictures brings a refreshing insight into the krump dance style scene. Krump is an unconventional kind of a dance, characterized by quick, harsh, random and seemingly violent body movements, while the dancers themselves sport a rather grim look about them. While they dance, it seems as if they’re possessed and/or fairly upset about something, and at times they even break into tears as if they have reached some unknown place of mental bliss. The slow motion shots this documentary abounds with further emphasize the oddness of Krump, while simultaneously uncovering the fine lines of dare I say, the beauty of rage. In my view, this beauty of rage roughly summarizes Krump art.

Stills of 'The Art of Krump' shot by Stefan Müller of Kaizenpictures
Still of ‘The Art of Krump’ shot by Stefan Müller of Kaizenpictures

Looking at how nearly obsessed the dancers look like when dancing Krump, I felt an excitement similar to the one I felt watching Christian themed horror movies when I was growing up. As a child, I could not detect the reason for this fascination, but now I know that references to Christian motifs in pop culture – especially those concerning guilt and sin – excite me. Particularly when they are meant to reveal how fragile humans are in our inability not to sin and ward off the evil. Pop culture (and here I mean pop culture in its broadest possible sense) made sin, in a Catholic sense, as one of the most attractive and seductive mischiefs there is, it almost constitutes someone’s appeal and icon-value. Sin is a capital put that way. Sin has thus, long left the confines of only the religious sphere of life, not only because it was originally meant to be a means of policing the behaviour, but also because it’s a trope almost larger than life.

The more shocking something is, the more attention it gets; and while we value appearances and make spectacles out of superficiality, attention is a currency on its own. One can do lots with the attention capital brought in by scandal and mischief. Meanwhile, a sin is a paradoxal but loud enough statement that places itself on an exemplary display: it demands to be heard, it calls for attention, it shows that an individual can go astray and even enjoy it at times, and finally, it gets sanctioned. However, often times the act of sin does not manage to escape the very confines of the moral system it tries to stand against. While some sinners get to sin, and get away with it, and some get properly punished, we have made sinning into a fetish; anyone who ever expressed or heard the words ‘I’ve been a very, very, bad girl’ knows that. However, the appeal of having all of one’s sins forgiven in exchange for acceptance is what comes as a common follow-up. This is where K.R.U.M.P. comes in.

Stills of 'The Art of Krump' shot by Stefan Müller of Kaizenpictures
Still of ‘The Art of Krump’ shot by Stefan Müller of Kaizenpictures

Most sources suggest that krumping was developed in the early 90’s out of clowning, which is a similar dancing style that came to existence completely accidentally, when a former drug dealer found alternate ways of earning money, so he designed his own dance to perform at children’s birthdays. By the 00’s however, it is certain that krumpers were krumping, and they were doing so in a dance off battle kind of way. It was Tight Eyez and Miss Prissy, two dancers, who took the moves of clowning and softened it and used it as a way to keep themselves off the streets and poverty.

KRUMP has been made vastly known by David Lachapelle‘s documentary from 2006, titled ‘Rize‘. The name Krump is an acrynom and it stands for – ‘Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise’. ‘Rize’ does not hide away the relation K.R.U.M.P. has to Christianity; it marks an entire section titled ‘Krumping for Christ’, as well as it reveals that Krump resembles African tribe dances and religious ritual dances from Cuba and Haiti. In the article ‘Krump Theology: Street Kingdom, Faith, and America’s Best Dance Crew’ (2011) written by Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber, we are offered another detailed and well argued insight about the origins of Krump, while supporting the idea that krump originates in Christianity. I’d say it is entirely up to those who krump to choose what they are Krumping for.

Tight Eyez, one of the founders of Krump as we know it today, stated that he would have ‘fallen victim to violence if there wasn’t for krumping’. Further on, Tight Eyez explains that it takes a lot of might and strength to perform krump the right way – it might look as if he’s ‘angry from the outside’, but anger is definitely not the driving force of the dance and community. It is rather the huge amount of power one must muster in order to let ‘it’ out, and the course is getting higher and higher, until one gets to that place, happiness, salvation or freedom. It’s as if a Krumper performs a purifying dance, letting go of all the unclear and unworthy so that one can reach a new level. That is awfully similar to the act of purification, and in that I completely agree with Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber, when she states that Krump originates in religion-based practices, I add however, that that is not limited to Christianity only.

To those who krump for Christ, Krump seems to reinstall the positive values of faith by affirming them through dance. It makes use of the intimidating images of anger and rage in order to portray a struggle and suggest a promise of a relief. Krump offers a community space and means to salvation, the dance itself requires the dancer to experience feelings of reaching higher, which subsequently reinforces the feeling/emotion of faith. Krump is unquestionably a very special dance genre, but also a community, an art form and a lifestyle.


Source: ‘Krump Theology: Street Kingdom, Faith, and America’s Best Dance Crew’ (Article written by: Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber, 2011)

The Art of Krump “journey to heaven” feat. TightEyez & E.R. (2013)



Filmed and Edited by Stefan Müller (of KAIZENPICTURES)

Assistent: Deborah Joos

Cast: Tight Eyez & EnForcer

Customer: EBS  (European Buck Session)

Music: Insightful – Lost in free will + Marcus Zhur & Justin Moreh – Life in Motion

The ‘criminal violance’ records at the beginning are from the documentary ‘Gangland