Lil Jon
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Lil Jon

Lil Jon
Lil Jon.jpg
Lil Jon in 2007
Background information
Jonathan Smith
Born (1971-01-17) January 17, 1971 (age 47)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • synthesizer
  • drum machine
  • sampler

Lil Jon (born Jonathan Smith),[1] is an American Grammy Award winning rapper, record producer, and DJ.[2] He was the frontman of the multi-platium selling group Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz from 1995 thru 2006.[3] The group released several full length studio albums and singles. As a solo artist, he has appeared on numerous chart topping singles and continues to produce music for other musical acts. He appeared in season 11 and season 13 of the NBC television reality show, Celebrity Apprentice. As of 2013, he has held continuous DJ residencies in Las Vegas.

Life and career


Born and raised in Atlanta,Georgia, Smith graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta. Lil Jon made his debut as a guest DJ on WRFG's "Macadocious in Effect" underground hip-hop show [4]

Early Career

In 1993, Jermaine Dupri met Lil Jon when he was the DJ at a nightclub. Dupri would later start his Atlanta based music label So So Def and when it came to hiring an A&R director, Dupri stated "All I could think about was Lil Jon, because he was the person in the clubs. He knew people, DJs knew him. I had to hire him." Dupri told Lil Jon that he wanted to start a project but to "do something he wanted to do." Lil Jon then recruited DJ Smurf, Shawty Redd, Raheem the Dream, Playa Poncho, and put together the So So Def Bass All-Stars compilation series as his first project witih Dupri.[5] Lil Jon also served as the album's executive producer, which spawned the hit single, My Boo (Ghost Town DJ's song) [6]

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz
OriginAtlanta, Georgia, U.S.
LabelsBlack Market, TVT
Lil Scrappy, Pitbull, Ying Yang Twins,
MembersLil Jon
Big Sam
Lil' Bo

Smith took the stage name Lil Jon and formed musical group Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, with rappers Big Sam (born Sammie Dernard Norris) and Lil' Bo (born Wendell Maurice Neal).[7] 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.[8]

In 2000, Jon co-founded the label, BME Recordings, with his three long time friends, Vince Phillips, Rob Mac and Emperor Searcy. 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.

Lil Jon was talked about as "the new guy" by street team people in the markets where he was attracting his biggest audiences - namely Atlanta, St. Louis, Memphis and Dallas. Bryan Leach, A&R at TVT, went to one of Lil Jon's Atlanta shows and was blown away by its immense energy.[9] 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."[9]

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.[1] "Bia' Bia'" peaked at No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 47 on the Billboard R&B chart.[8]

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.[8] The group's next single, a collaboration with fellow Atlanta hip hop group Ying Yang Twins titled "Get Low", became popular in nightclubs nationwide; it 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).[8]

Solo career and production

Lil Jon has also produced many hit urban singles. From 2003 to 2005, while still with The East Side Boyz, Lil Jon produced hits such as "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, "Girlfight" by Brooke Valentine, "Presidential" by YoungBloodZ.[1] 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".[10] 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.[11] 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 planned.[12] As part of TVT Records' 2008 bankruptcy auction, Lil Jon withdrew his multimillion-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 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.[13] In March 2011, Lil Jon took part in the fourth season of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC and was eliminated in the Final Four.[14]

In July 2011, he 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".

In January 2014, Lil Jon collaborated with DJ Snake and released "Turn Down for What" on Columbia Records. In February 2014, the single entered the top 5 on the Dance/Electronic chart and debuted at number 38 on Billboard's Hot 100.[15] The song peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to be certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA.[16]

On July 22, 2014, Lil Jon released a single titled "Bend Ova", featuring Tyga and released on Epic Records.[17][18] The song reached number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. His latest single "Take It Off" featuring Yandel and Becky G was released on July 22, 2016.[19]

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". Describing that album with guest performers, Birchmeier remarked: "The end result is an album that resembles a street-level mixtape rather than a traditional artist-oriented album".[20]

Lil Jon 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".[21] Lil Jon has also found influence in rock music, having worked with Rick Rubin and Korn.[22] He expresses this influence 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 he used to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd while 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".[23]


Lil Jon has been a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, finishing 4th in its 11th season and 3rd in its 13th season, The All-Star Celebrity Apprentice. While on the show, it was reported that Donald Trump had referred to Lil Jon repeatedly as "Uncle Tom" until confronted by Lil Jon and other members of the crew.[24][25]

Personal life

Lil Jon married Nicole Smith in 2004. They have a son named Nathan Smith (born 1998).[26]

He was an avid fan of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers until they relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.[27] He has since become a fan of the NHL's newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. He has recently also become a fan of the University of Tennessee Volunteers, which adopted 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.

Lil Jon is a fan of the television show The Walking Dead and has made multiple appearances as a guest on Talking Dead.


Lil Jon's general marketing logo, used since 2001

with the East Side Boyz



Grammy Awards

A Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY) is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievement in the music industry.

Year Recipient Category Result
2005 "Yeah!" (with Usher and Ludacris) Record of the Year Nominated
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Won
Best R&B Song Nominated
"Confessions" (with Usher) Album of the Year Nominated
2015 "Turn Down for What" (with DJ Snake) Best Music Video Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards

An MTV Video Music Award (abbreviated as a VMA) is an award presented by the cable channel MTV to honor the best in the music video medium.

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2014 "Turn Down for What" (with DJ Snake) MTV Clubland Award Nominated
Best Direction Won
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Best Art Direction Nominated

American Music Awards

The American Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony created by Dick Clark in 1973. Lil Jon and The Eastside Boyz has received two nominations, winning one Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Band/Duo/Group .[28][29]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
American Music Awards of 2003 Lil Jon and The Eastside Boyz Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Band/Duo/Group Won
2005 Lil Jon and The Eastside Boyz Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Band/Duo/Group Nominated


Television appearances

Video game appearances

Lil' Jon is a playable character in the video game Tony Hawk's American Wasteland as an unlockable and Def Jam: Icon. His song "Get Low" was also included in "Need for Speed Underground".

See also


  1. ^ a b c Birchmeier, Jason (2006). "Lil Jon - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008.
  2. ^ "Lil Jon:Artist Page". Recording Academy. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "Gold and Platinum Certifications". RIAA. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ Sheila Green Productions Barry Mills biography
  5. ^ "So So Def at 20: How it all began". Creative Loafing. 2013-02-21. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Heard and Unseen: The Oral History of Ghost Town DJ's 'My Boo' | SPIN". 2016-05-26. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Reid, Shaheem (November 1, 2004). "Lil' Jon: Big Chips (page 2)". MTV News. Archived from the original on November 12, 2004. Retrieved 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d "Lil Jon > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Interview with Bryan Leach". HitQuarters. April 5, 2004. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Reid, Shaheem (February 28, 2006). "Lil Jon Has Big Plans For E-40 And The Hyphy Movement". MTV News. Retrieved 2009.
  11. ^ "Lil Jon Readies Rock Album". Archived from the original on September 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006.
  12. ^ 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 2009.
  13. ^ VIBE: Lil Jon Goes to the Orchard Archived September 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ [/11/celebrity-apprentice-season-four-cast-revealed/ Celebrity Apprentice Season Four Cast Revealed]
  15. ^ Gordon Murray (December 27, 2013). "DJ Snake, Lil Jon, Katy Perry Power Up Dance Charts". Billboard. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - November, 2016". Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "iTunes - Music - Bend Ova (feat. Tyga) - Single by Lil Jon". iTunes. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ Kevin Goddard. "Lil Jon - Bend Ova (CDQ) Feat. Tyga". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ "Take It Off (feat. Yandel & Becky G) - Single by Lil Jon". July 22, 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ Birchmeier, Jason (May 22, 2001). "Put Yo Hood Up: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009.
  21. ^ Henderson, Alex (2002). "Kings of Crunk: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009.
  22. ^ Reid, Shaheem (May 12, 2004). "Lil Jon Bangs Head, Creates 'Crunk-Rock'". MTV News. Retrieved 2009.
  23. ^ Reid, Shaheem (May 17, 2006). "Lil Jon Wants To Double His Gold By Becoming King Of Rock". MTV News. Retrieved 2009.
  24. ^ "Lil Jon: Trump Repeatedly Made 'Uncle Tom' Joke During 'Celebrity Apprentice'". Fox News. October 15, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  25. ^ Suebsaeng, Asawin (October 14, 2016). "Donald Trump Kept Calling Lil Jon an 'Uncle Tom' on Celebrity Apprentice". Daily Beast. Retrieved 2016.
  26. ^ "SPOTTED: Lil Jon & His Wife & Son Have Family Dinner At Katsuya". The Young, Black, and Fabulous. Retrieved 2014.
  27. ^ Joe Yerdon (February 8, 2012). "Your moment of zen: Lil' Jon hanging with the Montreal Canadiens". NBC Sports. Retrieved 2014.
  28. ^ "2003 AMA Nominees". Billboard. 2003-09-16. Retrieved .
  29. ^ "AMA Award History". RockOnTheNet. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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