Dig Baton Rouge

Turn Down for What?!

By William McCray Sutherlin

Rapper/producer Jonathan Smith, aka Lil Jon, will be headed back to Baton Rouge this Saturday to perform at the grand opening XO Nightclub on August 9.

Lil Jon got his start playing DJ shows in his home town of Atlanta, Ga., and then moved on to work for So So Def Recordings from 1993-2000.  Towards the end of his tenure at the label, he founded rap group Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz with Big Sam and Lil Bo, cranking out hits like “Who U Wit?” and “Shawty Freak a Lil’ Sumthin’.”

Lil Jon XO Nightclub
150 Mayflower Street near the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino
Tickets: $25, available through TicketLeap

In addition to his solo work, and time with The East Side Boyz, Lil Jon has also produced popular tracks such as “Salt Shaker” by Ying Yang Twins, “Yeah!” by Usher, “Presidential” by YoungBloodz and many more.

Lil Jon has been known to bring a lively, rock like atmosphere to his rap performances, and has drawn comparisons to rap greats “Beastie Boys” for his impressive stage presence.

According to XO’s Facebook updates, he will be performing a live EDM DJ set on Saturday night, rather than a rap show.

As a seasoned DJ, Lil Jon has never been too far from the dance community.  In 2013 he collaborated with DJ Snake for “Turn Down for What,” a monster hit amongst many demographics.

The recording process began in early 2013, when Snake sent Lil Jon an instrumental and a Redman sample. But after a listen, Lil Jon dropped Redman’s quip in a moment of inspiration.

“The first thing that popped into my head when I put the headphones on and the beat drops was, “TURN DOWN FOR WHAT,” Lil Jon told SPIN.

It took some convincing from one DJ to another, but eventually, Lil Jon’s desires own out.

“I still don’t think he really grasped what ‘Turn Down for What’ meant yet; he’s French and doesn’t understand all the slang, of course,” he said. “Someone has to really show you, so I started to play the record in my sets, and every time I played it, somebody would come up to me and be like, ‘What the fuck is that? Let me get it.’ So I gave it to a bunch of homies, and it ended up getting leaked to a major DJ website, and started to explode on the Internet. That’s when we started to get label interest.”

Since, the track has turned into a phenomenon, getting serious radio play and becoming a nightclub setlist mainstay. Lil Jon said the song’s power is in its ability to appeal to a mass audience.

“A song’s gotta capture a moment in someone’s life,” he said. “It’s basically a movement of people that like to have a good time. This song is the type of song that gets you motivated to do anything. A lot of people tweet me like, ‘I was almost through my workout, “Turn Down for What” came on, and it made me go even harder at the gym.’ I pitched the song to be used for a basketball team like the Miami Heat. It’s amazing, because that’s what I’ve been doing all my career: just getting people amped up and hyped up.”

McCray’s Mix

Three Lil Jon tracks to prime you for Saturday

1) “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake & Lil Jon

  • Released at the tail end of 2013 by Columbia Records, this anthem entered the Top 10 on the Billboard Dance Chart.
  • “When I hit up the big homie Jon and asked him if he wanted to be on the track, this song is a pretty balling song. He heard the beat and was instantly down with the vision. What he sent me back, though, absolutely blew my mind. I knew Jon was one of the best to do it when it comes to hooks, but he absolutely killed it on this joint.” – DJ Snake.

2) “Snap Yo Fingers” by Lil Jon

  • This provocative up-tempo, catchy track once peaked at #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100

3) “In da Club” by Lil Jon.

  • Released in 2004 on TVT/BME and featuring R.Kelly, Ludacris, you can still catch this track circulating on club playlists around the country.




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