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Exuberant, loud-mouthed, and regularly adorned with a bejeweled pimp chalice in hand, Lil Jon was the charismatic figurehead of the Dirty South crunk movement that arose from the Atlanta area around the turn of the century. Born Jonathan Smith on January 27, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia, the producer/rapper began his rap industry ascension as part of Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label, for which he worked from 1993 to 2000. In the mid-'90s Lil Jon began making a name for himself as a producer with a knack for club remixes. Before long he formed his own group, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, comprised of Big Sam and Lil Bo, in addition to himself.
Essentially a means of showcasing his production talent, and profiting from it as well, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz signed to Mirror Image Records, an Atlanta-based label distributed by Ichiban Records. In 1997 the label released Who U Wit?, a CD single, and Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album; a second CD single, Shawty Freak a Lil Sumtin', followed in 1998. The regional success of "Who U Wit?" brought with it plenty of outside production opportunities for Lil Jon, and so it wasn't until 2000 that he returned with another East Side Boyz album, We Still Crunk, this one released independently by BME Recordings. A contract with TVT Records followed, as did the group's label debut, Put Yo Hood Up (2001), which boasted some previously released material (e.g., "Who U Wit?," "I Like Dem Girlz"), as well as "Bia' Bia'," the first Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz single to get national airplay, thanks in part to the song's guest features (i.e., Ludacris, Too Short).
Led by the single "I Don't Give a @#&%," Kings of Crunk (2002) then capitalized on Lil Jon's breakthrough, spawning the Top Five hit "Get Low." Featuring the Ying Yang Twins, "Get Low" was a club phenomenon throughout 2003; Part II, a CD/DVD EP released toward the end of the year, featured dancehall and merengue remixes of the song, along with additional material. Lil Jon's production style became ubiquitous on urban radio thereafter, as "Salt Shaker" (a production for the Ying Yang Twins), "Goodies" (Ciara), "Yeah!" (Usher), "Freek-a-Leek" (Petey Pablo), "Shorty Wanna Ride" (Young Buck), "Damn!" (YoungBloodZ), "Let's Go" (Trick Daddy), "Culo" (Pitbull), "Head Bussa" (Lil Scrappy), "Neva Eva" (Trillville), and "Shake That Monkey" (Too Short) all garnered significant airplay in 2003-2004. By this point, the celebrity of Lil Jon was such that comedian Dave Chappelle was memorably satirizing him (especially his signature "yeaaah!" and "whaaat!?" expressions) on a couple episodes of The Chappelle Show.
Toward the end of 2004, "What U Gon' Do," a Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz single featuring Lil Scrappy, announced the release of Crunk Juice, a star-studded album featuring guest features on nearly every song. "Friends & Lovers," featuring Usher and Ludacris, became the most successful single, reaching the Top Three of the Billboard 100. In the wake of Crunk Juice, Lil Jon put his solo career on hold while his label went through bankruptcy hearings. He continued to produce hits for others, including "I'm a King" (T.I., 2005), "Touch" (Amerie, 2005), "Girlfight" (Brooke Valentine, 2005), "Okay" (Nivea, 2005), "Presidential" (YoungBloodZ, 2006), "U and Dat" (E-40, 2006), "Gangsta Gangsta" (Lil Scrappy, 2006), and "Dime/Tell Me" (Pitbull, 2006), among others. In 2010 his solo career was back in the forefront with the release of that year's Crunk Rock. A year later he competed on Donald Trump's reality television show Celebrity Apprentice, losing to country music star John Rich, while 2014 saw him mash crunk with trap and electro on "Turn Down for What," his Top Five dance hit and collaborative single with DJ Snake.
Wikipedia:"Little Jon" redirects here. For the character in the Robin Hood legend, see Little John.For the television host, see Big Chuck and Lil' John.
Jonathan Smith (born January 17, 1971), better known by his stage name Lil Jon, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and DJ. He was a member of the group Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, which he formed in 1997, and they released several albums until 2004. He then went solo and released a new album in 2010 titled Crunk Rock. He was also featured on Celebrity Apprentice during its 11th and 13th seasons.Birchmeier, Jason (2006). "Lil Jon – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved April 11, 2008. "@LilJon (official)". Twitter. January 17, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2011. Semuels, Alana (March 12, 2007). "Rappers hear siren song of opportunity". LA Times. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
ContentsLife and career1.1 Beginnings1.2 Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz1.3 Solo career and production
Life and career
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Smith graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta. He attended Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia for two years before starting his rapping career. After working as a DJ for Atlanta night clubs, he started working for So So Def Recordings between 1993 and 2000.
Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz
Smith took the stage name Lil Jon and formed musical group Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz with rappers Big Sam (born Sammie D. Norris) and Lil' Bo (born Wendell Maurice Neal). The group signed to the Atlanta-based Mirror Image Records and were distributed by Ichiban Records. In 1997, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz debuted with Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album. It included singles "Who U Wit?" and "Shawty Freak a Lil' Sumthin'", the latter of which came out in 1998. Both singles charted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 70 and No. 62 respectively. In 2000, Jon took part in starting up his own label BME Recordings and signed a distribution agreement with Norcross, Georgia based Southern Music Distribution. There he released his breakthrough album titled We Still Crunk!. Among the tracks on that project was the hit single "I Like Those Girls," which reached No. 55 on the R&B chart and No. 3 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart.
After hearing feedback that Lil Jon was "the new guy" from street team people in the markets where he was attracting his biggest audiences – namely Atlanta, St. Louis, Memphis and Dallas – A&R at TVT, Bryan Leach, went to one of his Atlanta shows and was blown away by the immense energy of the experience. Leach told HitQuarters: "It was like early Beastie Boys, when they had the energy of a rock group but they were rapping, and ... that energy is what crunk music is all about." Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz signed to TVT Records in 2001 and debuted there with Put Yo Hood Up, which combined previously released tracks with new ones. The group's first nationally played single was "Bia' Bia'", which featured rappers Ludacris, Too Short, Big Kapp, and Chyna Whyte. "Bia' Bia'" peaked at No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 47 on the Billboard R&B chart.
In 2002, the group released Kings of Crunk. "I Don't Give A..." was its first single; it featured Mystikal and Krayzie Bone and peaked at No. 50 on the R&B chart. The group's next single, a collaboration with fellow Atlanta hip hop group Ying Yang Twins titled "Get Low", became popular in nightclubs nationwide and reached the top ten of the Hot 100.Crunk Juice followed in 2004, led by "What U Gon' Do" featuring Lil' Scrappy. "What U Gon' Do" peaked at No. 22 on the Hot 100, No. 13 on the R&B chart, and No. 5 on the rap chart; its follow-up, "Lovers & Friends" featuring Usher and Ludacris, peaked at No. 3 (Hot 100), No. 2 (R&B), and No. 1 (rap).
Solo career and production
In addition to leading Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, Lil Jon has also produced many hit urban singles. From 2003 to 2005, while still with The East Side Boyz, Lil Jon produced hits like "Salt Shaker" by Ying Yang Twins, "Yeah!" by Usher, "Freek-a-Leek" by Petey Pablo, "Shorty Wanna Ride" by Young Buck, "Shake That Monkey" by Too Short, "Let's Go" by Trick Daddy, "Girlfight" by Brooke Valentine, "Presidential" by YoungBloodZ. Lil Jon entered the San Francisco Bay Area hyphy music scene in 2006 with his collaborations with Bay Area rapper E-40: Lil Jon produced E-40's single "Tell Me When To Go" and had E-40 and Atlanta rapper, Sean P of the YoungBloodZ, on his own "Snap Yo Fingers". During that same year he produced a song called "Go to Church" for Ice Cube. In 2006, Lil Jon severed his negotiation with record label TVT. He vowed never to record for TVT Records again, alleging that TVT owner Steve Gottlieb was shortchanging him. He also began recording a rock music album, Crunk Rock.
MTV News reported in March 2008 that Crunk Rock was taking more time to complete than Lil Jon already planned. As part of TVT Records' 2008 bankruptcy auction, Lil Jon withdrew his multi-million dollar objection to the TVT sale proceedings and agreed to TVT's transfer of his artist agreement to The Orchard. In return, The Orchard released Lil Jon from all future obligations and returned the rights to the master recordings of Crunk Rock. Crunk Rock was finally released on June 8, 2010 and it features artists such as LMFAO, Soulja Boy, Ying Yang Twins, Waka Flocka Flame, R. Kelly, and many more. In March 2011, Lil Jon took part in the fourth season of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC and was eliminated in the Final Four. In July 2011, in a recent interview has said that he is working on a new studio album called Party Animal and has released a song with LMFAO called "Drink", which was used in the trailer for the film The World's End. In 2013, Lil Jon partnered with Zumba Fitness to create a new nightclub tour titled "Zumba Nightclub Series". For Zumba Fitness, he released a new song called "Work". I
In January 2014, Lil Jon collaborated with DJ Snake and released "Turn Down for What" on Loco Records. In February 2014, the single entered the top 5 on the Dance/Electronic chart and debuted No. 38 on Billboard's Hot 100. The song has since peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and gone on to be certified 3x Platinum by the RIAA. On July 22, 2014, Lil Jon released a single titled "Bend Ova", featuring Tyga and released on Epic Records.Ruggieri, Melissa (May 23, 2011). "Lil Jon: ‘Show pushes your limits'". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved December 16, 2012. Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Reid, Shaheem (November 1, 2004). "Lil' Jon: Big Chips (page 2)". MTV News. Retrieved May 18, 2010. "Lil Jon > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". allmusic. Retrieved December 23, 2009. "Interview with Bryan Leach". HitQuarters. Apr 5, 2004. Retrieved Jan 28, 2011. Reid, Shaheem (February 28, 2006). "Lil Jon Has Big Plans For E-40 And The Hyphy Movement". MTV News. Retrieved December 23, 2009. "Lil Jon Video" (ONLINE INTERVIEW). SOHH.com. Retrieved February 22, 2006. Reid, Shaheem (March 6, 2008). "Lil Jon Isn't A Rock Star Just Yet, But He's Keeping Busy With E-40, Extreme Athletes". MTV News. Retrieved December 23, 2009. VIBE: Lil Jon Goes to the Orchard [/11/celebrity-apprentice-season-four-cast-revealed/ Celebrity Apprentice Season Four Cast Revealed] Gordon Murray (December 27, 2013). "DJ Snake, Lil Jon, Katy Perry Power Up Dance Charts". Billboard. Retrieved January 30, 2014. "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - March 09, 2015". http://www.riaa.com. Retrieved March 9, 2015. "iTunes - Music - Bend Ova (feat. Tyga) - Single by Lil Jon". iTunes. Retrieved March 9, 2015. Kevin Goddard. "Lil Jon - Bend Ova (CDQ) Feat. Tyga". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
Musical style and influences
Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic has described Lil Jon's production as "bass-heavy" and his album Put Yo Hood Up as having "a long and varied list of guest rappers to accompany the beats". With the guest performers featured on that album much more than the East Side Boyz, Birchmeier remarked: "The end result is an album that resembles a street-level mixtape rather than a traditional artist-oriented album". He was specifically influenced by 2 Live Crew, 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, OutKast, Geto Boys, UGK, N.W.A, Dr. Dre, and Sir Mix-A-Lot. Alex Henderson, also of allmusic, contrasted Lil Jon's style of "rowdy, in-your-face, profanity-filled party music" with other Southern rappers', those who "have a gangsta/thug life agenda" and those who convey "serious sociopolitical messages". Lil Jon has also found influence in rock music, having worked with Rick Rubin and Korn. This influence embodies itself in his aggressive delivery and 'yelling' style of rap. He was seen on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time program wearing a Bad Brains T-shirt and also used to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd growing up in the South in the 1970s. For Trick Daddy's "Let's Go", Lil Jon sampled the bass line from Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train".Birchmeier, Jason (May 22, 2001). "Put Yo Hood Up: Review". allmusic. Retrieved December 23, 2009. Henderson, Alex (2002). "Kings of Crunk: Review". allmusic. Retrieved December 23, 2009. Reid, Shaheem (May 12, 2004). "Lil Jon Bangs Head, Creates 'Crunk-Rock'". MTV News. Retrieved December 23, 2009. Reid, Shaheem (May 17, 2006). "Lil Jon Wants To Double His Gold By Becoming King Of Rock". MTV News. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
Lil Jon has been a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, finishing 4th in its 11th season 3rd in its 13th season, The All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.
Lil Jon married Nicole Smith in 2004. They have a son named Nathan (born in 1998). He was an avid fan of the NHL Atlanta Thrashers franchise until they relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. He has recently also become a fan of the University of Tennessee Volunteers since their adoption of his hit song "Turn Down for What" on third downs, changing it to "Third Down for What." On October 4, 2014, Lil Jon made an appearance via jumbotron encouraging the Volunteers to beat the University of Florida Gators. Tennessee would go on to lose by one point, but Lil Jon in a tweet after the game claimed that he "still had their back.""SPOTTED: Lil Jon & His Wife & Son Have Family Dinner At Katsuya". The Young, Black, and Fabulous. Retrieved January 30, 2014. Joe Yerdon (February 8, 2012). "Your moment of zen: Lil' Jon hanging with the Montreal Canadiens". NBC Sports. Retrieved January 30, 2014.