Article Archive

Lil Jon - Okaaayyyy!

Author: Jim Singline
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
For someone you could reasonably call Jon Smith - his real name is Jonathan Smith - Lil Jon is no ordinary fellow. 3D’s Jim Singline talks to the master of all things crunk.

It’s 4pm on a shining Sydney weekday and Lil Jon, the producer/rapper/mogul extraordinaire, is still working through his series of media commitments since landing in Australia at 6am. In between interviews, Lil Jon is tending to the important issues with his entourage: “Yeeeah, we need lotsa BBQ chicken. Soul food. That’s the stuff you only get in two places, Atlanta and Australia. Hey, and we ain’t got the connections for the PlayStation.” But some photos first Lil Jon- “Yeeeah, but I gonna need some more o’ that juice or I’m just gonna be pretending to be crunk!”

Lil Jon’s fame is like that of a cartoon character. His exclamations are trademarks: Yeeeahh! What- Okaaaaayyy! If you see so much as his silhouette, they ring out in your head. It’s no wonder then that Lil Jon’s promotions portfolio seems to grow by the minute: Crunk Juice energy drink, Oakley wraparound sunnies, a Vivid porn series, the skate-snow-surf Action Sports Team, Bling video games, Scary Movies and more thrive off his permanent state of hi-NRG.

During Southern rap’s major club takeover in the early 2000s, it was these same hype-man antics that stoked Lil Jon’s genius 808-bass’n’synth productions into major worldwide hits. The first breakthroughs came with I Don’t Give A F**k, Get Low and Yeah! featuring Usher and Ludacris. Countless others followed, and Lil Jon was rightfully donned King of Crunk. “I can’t say I was the first one to make people get crunk in the club, but I was the first one to say this is all I do. It’s my job. I ain’t got no freestyles, I ain’t got no book of rhymes. But I’ma get muthafuckers rowdy and crunk.”

So what’s kept the fulltime crunk merchant almost three years from releasing an album- Well, apart from the extra-curricular business ventures, Lil Jon is treading carefully with his pet project, entitled Crunk Rock. “When you doing a record that’s different from what you’ve done before, it’s gonna take longer cause you gotta experiment.

“Skating in the ’80s got me into everything from Bad Brains to Dead Kennedys to Depeche Mode to Morrissey. Once you digest that its always inside o’ you.” The form that this inspiration will take is anybody’s guess, especially when Lil Jon talks confidently of collaborating with Good Charlotte, Korn and Green Day personnel.

There are some signposts to Crunk Rock however. In 2004, Lil Jon collaborated with Rick Rubin on Stop F**kin Wit Me, twisting some gnarly Slayer guitars into one helluva fight song. Then back last Halloween, Lil Jon dropped Act A Fool, a tie-over single featuring some looped oldschool riffery and a new signature slogan: “Party like a Rockstar, F*** like a Pornstar.” The exact format was ripped by the Shop Boyz’ Party like a Rockstar to become a 2007 summer anthem. Grinning, Lil Jon doesn’t seem to mind one bit. “That was a good thing. They’re opening people’s ears up that wouldn’t normally listen to rock. That helped me learn how to deal with different kinds of people.”
And with this sort of confidence Lil Jon sounds ripe to extend his title to King of Crunk Rock.

WHO: Lil John
WHAT: Plays Big Top at Luna Park
WHEN: Saturday 13 October