|interview by Thato Dadson
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new album “Crunk Rock”
Lil’ Jon: Basically what you can expect from the new album Crunk Rock is every type of Lil Jon people have ever heard, from the crunk Lil Jon to the Lil Jon you heard with Pitbull, to even new sh*t too. It’s all kind of “me’s” on the album. Since my fan base is so broad and so wide, I basically wanted to give my people that all know me for different stuff something they all can relate to on the album.
WHO?MAG: What made you decide to go this route with “Crunk Rock”?
Lil’ Jon: I just have a broad fan base, I’m one of those artists that appeal to so many different kinds of people, and I can collaborate with so many different kinds of people and genres that I feel that I need to show all of those people some love. So I went into the studio and tried to make the best album I could. I think everyone is going to appreciate it, and think it’s fresh and new and different from the same ol’ same ol’ music.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new single “Miss Chocolate” featuring R. Kelly and Mario.
Lil’ Jon: I was actually in the studio with my producer Drumma Boy who did the beat for that, and I was actually eating some chocolate while I was listening to the beat. I was like, “You know what? Nobody never really did a song for the chocolate girls. All of these rappers are always shouting out the light skin girls on the songs and the light skin girls on the videos. The chocolate girls are beautiful too, so let’s do a song for them.” I sent the beat to Kel’s and told him the concept and he knocked his parts out, then Mario went in and did his part and here we are! We now have an anthem for the chocolate girls.
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the collaboration with LMFAO.
Lil’ Jon: Well the first collaboration I did with LMFAO was “Shots” which was an extremely big club record, probably one of the biggest club records of last year. When it came time to work on my album, I told them I wanted to get a record from them and told them we need to do another joint. Our collaborations were so natural. We all do different stuff, but when we come together, it’s real. So when we went into the studio we came out with “Outta Your Mind”, which is basically the ultimate club songs to get crazy to. When it comes on people just loose it, like what I say in the song, “People just f*cking loose it” and they go crazy. It’s like a 2010 crunch on the next level type of jam because it has he same energy, but its not on the same tempo of a normal crunk song. The synths and all of that take it to another level of what I normally do. People are even making it a part of their lifestyle saying “outta your mind”. I get hit on twitter a lot by people tweeting, “Yo Lil Jon, it’s Friday. Time to get outta your mind.” and “I’m going to the club tonight, time to get outta your mind”. That’s how people are turning it into part of their lifestyle, and that is what Crunk Rock is about too, it’s the life style we live. We live life to the fullest, party hard like rockstars. We live for the day because we are not promised tomorrow, so we live a crunk, rock, life style. The album started off meaning Crunk Rock; a collaboration with crunk and rock, but it took on this other meaning as a lifestyle. That’s basically what the songs on the album are talking about. That’s why I still have the title “Crunk Rock”. That’s how we live!
WHO?MAG: What is your definition of “Crunk Music”?
Lil’ Jon: Well Crunk Music is rowdy, dirty south club music. I brought it to the forefront in the mid 2000’s, and now you have new artists like Waka Flocka that are the new generation of crunk who grew up on crunk and are now the offsprings of crunk. I was with Roscoe dash yesterday and he was on the radio. They asked him, “Yo, how would you describe your music?” and he said, “I am like the new generation of crunk.” So there are a lot of the newer and younger kids coming out who’s brother’s and sister’s were listening to the music when they were younger, that’s what Roscoe said, cause he is a fan of the music because that’s all his older brother listened too. “Crunk” the word means something that’s off the chain, crazy, high energy, right before insanity; that’s crunk. Using it in a sentence could be, “Man, I had it hard today. I am ready to go to the club and get crunk!” That’s what “crunk” is.
WHO?MAG: Did you expect the result to become such a phenomenon?
Lil’ Jon: No, I just wanted to make records. From day one when I started with the East Side Boyz I just wanted to make some records to make the people go crazy in the clubs in Atlanta. It just grew and grew and developed, and now I’m going overseas performing those records, and I never expected that cause I just wanted to make good music. I am blessed that I have that type of impact on people all around the world. It’s great.
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Pitbull?
Lil’ Jon: I was in Miami a lot, and one time I was there I was listening to the radio and Pitbull had a song on the radio back then, before he was really known, pretty much just a local rapper. Also when I was in Miami, a lot of latinos would come to me like, “Yo, I like your music” because I would walk up and down South Beach on memorial day weekend and party club to club and all kinds of people would show me love. So the same time I was listening to Pitbull on radio some guy I met on the beach was like, “Yo, I mess with that dude, I manage him a little.” I told him to bring him by the studio because I want to get him on an interlude, because I wanted to show my latino fans that I had love for them too. I let Pitbull spit on this interlude and after that we did “Whatchu Gonna Do” and “Culo” and I produced a bunch of songs on his first album “Crazy The Anthem”, and he’s about to drop his Spanish album. I got a song on there called “Mami”. He’s got a song on Crunk Rock with a song DJ Chucky produced called “Work It Out” so that’s family.
WHO?MAG: Were you at all influenced my the Miami Bass sound?
Lil’ Jon: Yeah, that’s family so that’s 2 Live Crew and Pretty Tony and of course we had an Atlanta-based scene as well but growing up, the Miami Bass rappers was running it. In the mid 80’s in the South, that’s all we would listen to. 2 live Crew, MC Shy D; Luke Skyywalker Records were running the Southern rap scene so that was the foundation.
WHO?MAG: How was the transition going from a DJ to a producer?
Lil’ Jon: Well I was always a DJ first. I started DJing in the early nineties and when I was doing this reggae show on B103. I had a partner Paul Lewis and basically back then I used to take the reggae a cappellas and put them over hip-hop beats and the hip-hop a cappellas and put them over reggae beats. By doing that we had one record company called Signet who gave us a chance on trying to remix some songs. We remixed Capleton’s “Tour”. So we did that remix which got him his deal with Def Jam, which really blew him up in the states too. It was kind of a smooth transition because I started off by just doing blends and then I just learned how to produce after that.
WHO?MAG: How did it feel to clean up the Billboard Awards with “Yeah” ?
Lil’ Jon: I mean it was definitely dope to win anything because when you go into the studio, you don’t go in thinking, “We’re going to make the Grammy Award-winning song tonight”. You just go in hoping to make a hot record. The fact that people appreciated that record around the world was enough recognition for me. For him to sell 9 million albums was enough recognition for me also. I was cool. But to win a Grammy for that record, and all of those MTV awards, and BET Awards and everything else was just added pleasure.
WHO?MAG: What advice can you give an upcoming artist?
Lil’ Jon: The best advice is to be patient because it’s not going to happen overnight. Also to network and to always be humble. Do those three things and you will go a long way in this industry because people always like to look out for the good guy. If you stay humble people will always look out for you. If you network, people always look out for people they know. This industry is all about connections. If you understand that this is not going to happen overnight and you work hard, then you stick with it, you stay in there and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it, then you will eventually make it.
WHO?MAG: What’s next for Lil Jon?
Lil’ Jon: Number one priority is “Crunk Rock”, second is getting more Twitter followers, www.twitter.com/liljon. Also, Crunk Energy Drink, but mainly “Crunk Rock”. It’s a breath of fresh air, people will enjoy that. It’s good music.