Share via Email 'I'm just a party guy' Mostly because he shouts, "It's motherfuckin' Lil Jon in the room," on arrival. Dreads akimbo, he grabs a beer and plonks himself on the white sofa in the all-white room of a tiresomely trendy all-white West End hotel. A suitably hulking security guard, a chap who appears to do little more than carry the jewellery and various record label lingerers accompany him.
Thanks to his manic, insanely loud and often preposterously un-PC music-making, Lil Jon, 35, is one of America's most recognisable entertainers. Indeed, following self-parodying appearances on cult comedy series Chappelle's Show and spoof film Scary Movie, he's practically a pop icon thanks to a propensity for screaming catchphrases like "Yeeeah" and "Okaaaay" at loud volumes. Granted, his one-word missives may not look too impressive on paper, but to paraphrase Frank Carson, it's the way he's tells 'em - which is noisily and often.
Like the Irish comedian, Jon also recognises opportunity when it knocks. Thanks to his sonic successes as a solo artist and producer for everyone from Paris Hilton to Busta Rhymes, Jon has since cashed in on a line of sunglasses with Oakley, his own record label, Black Market Entertainment, and a frankly bizarre porn DVD titled American Sex Series. Right now, he adds, dead serious, he's working on a Lil Jon action figure. The main proprietor of a southern-based rap offshoot called crunk, Lil Jon's day job involves creating speaker-shaking drum patterns, ear-splitting synth sounds and lyrics that are little more than compelling chants.
Steeped in Atlanta's strip club culture, crunk is rowdy, rebellious and often riotous. We live and die to get crunk. It's not just some motherfucking screaming on the record. It's the way we live our lives. It's part of our culture. I freshen up my sound every time and try to bring a different vibe to what's already going on out there. Occasionally aggressive and overwhelmingly misogynist, they're impossible to defend.
So he doesn't particularly bother trying. I look at it like this; if you don't like the shit, don't listen to it. There's plenty of women who love dancing to it," he pronounces bluntly. It's just a fucking record. There's fucking fighting at techno clubs. Shit, there might be a fight at a bar mitzvah. They just wanna blame it on hip-hop because it's convenient. We're young black men with money, power and influence and they don't like that.
I'm just a party guy," he says. You turn my shit on and you go and get fucked up, have a good time and relieve the stress you got. I'm not the one to really be preaching to anyone, that's not my thing. This is, after all, the man who told Ashton Kutcher "You can't punk the king of crunk" when the drawling boytoy unsuccessfully attempted to play a practical joke on him last summer.
More recently, he threatened not to release another album with his record label TVT until they paid the money he felt he was owed. Raised in a middle-class Atlanta suburb, the one area Jon absolutely refuses to conform to rap stereotype is his upbringing. Next minute though he's twittering on about teenage years spent having huge amounts of sex and getting outrageously drunk but you wonder whether it's true.
It's his refusal to let the persona slip that's undoubtedly a large part of his success. But, he admits, it does tire him out.
Lil Jon be wild, pouring tequila down everybody's throats whereas the regular me, I'm just quiet. I don't like to say nothing," he confesses. Everybody wants me to get the party started. But why can't they get the fucking party started? I always get the party started," he grumps. There is obviously much more to this beat-maker, but he's reluctant to reveal it, lest he tars the well-honed brand that makes him such huge amounts of money. It's only when he drops what looks like the top of a coathanger that a more sensitive side sort of shines through.
He carries the grey piece of plastic around the world with him as a reminder of his eight-year-old. He's been forced into releasing new single Snap Yo Fingers early after it leaked and shot to No 3 with practically no promotion. A tireless self-promoter, he readies himself to leave for a late-night radio show, summoning his gem-guardsman to pass him the Pimp Cup and the 10in x 10in diamond-studded Crunk Ain't Dead pendant. He only wears all this for photo-shoots or appearances, he mumbles, suddenly seeming tired, because it's "fucking heavy".
As eponymous as his arrival, it's not hard to know when Lil Jon is leaving the room. Mostly because he shouts "Lil Jon, leaving the room," as he goes. A caricature maybe, but a creative one at that. Flavoured with pomegranate and horny goat weed, yum it's strangely popular. Pimp Juice Despite shops, and civil rights activists disliking the name of Nelly's drink, customers didn't care.
It clocked up over three million in sales in one month. Defcon3 Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons got in on the act with his own gassy blue pop.
Inevitably, the bubble burst.