American rapper, music producer and occasional DJ and actor Lil' Jon, nicknamed The King Of Crunk, enjoyed his first success as the lead vocalist for the group Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, a gig which lasted from 1997 to 2004. He released five studio albums with the group, including the double platinum releases “Kings of Crunk” (2002, #2 US R&B) and “Crunk Juice” (2004, #1 US Rap and #3 US Hot 100). They also scored several hit singles on the U.S. Rap chart, including “Get Low” (featuring Ying Yang Twins, #1), “Lovers & Friends” (featuring Usher and Ludacris, #1) and “I Like Dem Girlz” (#3). The first two singles also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. After the group disbanded, Lil' Jon continued to produce his own music and tracks for other artists. His solo debut album, “Crunk Rock,” was released on June 8, 2010. Among popular singles he has produced include Usher's “Yeah,” Brooke Valentine's “Girlfight,” Pitbull's “The Anthem” and Jay Sean's “Do You Remember.” In addition, Lil' Jon has appeared in the films “Boss'n Up” (2004) and “Scary Movie 4” (2006). In February 2008, Lil' Jon launched his own collection of wine called Little Jonathan Winery.
Jonathan Mortimer Smith
Childhood and Family:
Jonathan Mortimer Smith, who would later be popular as Lil Jon, was born on January 27, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia. He once lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta in 1989.
Lil' Jon was married on November 27, 2004, to Nicole Smith in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. He has one son named Nathan Smith (born in 1999).
Lil' Jon began his career as a DJ for Atlanta clubs before he worked for So So Def Recordings from 1993 to 2000. In the mid 1990s, he gained attention for producing remixes to songs by numerous popular artists in the Atlanta area. In 1997, Lil' Jon formed his own group called Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys, with whom he would achieve success.
Also consisting of Big Sam and Lil Bo, Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys signed to Mirror Image Records, an Atlanta based label distributed by Ichiban Records, and released the debut album “Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album” on October 13, 1997. The single “Who You Wit” (1997) rose to No. 70 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Released in 1998, the follow up single “Shawty Freak a Lil Sumtin,” featuring Disco Rick, went to No. 32 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs and No. 62 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. It also charted at No. 119 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lil' Jon produced the album with DJ Toomp.
The group released their sophomore effort, “We Still Crunk,” on August 15, 2000, under BME Recordings. Produced by Lil' Jon, it entered the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums at No. 71 and yielded a hit single with “I Like Dem Girlz,” which peaked at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and made the Top 10 at the Hot Rap Songs chart (#3). Another single from the album, “Put Yo Hood Up,” peaked at No. 80 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks.
In 2001, Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys scored a contract with the New York City based independent label TVT Records. The group's debut with the label, “Put Yo Hood Up,” was released on May 22, 2001, in the U.S. It went to No. 6 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums, No. 43 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top Independent Album charts and became the group's first album to achieve gold certification. The group had their first nationally played single with “Bia' Bia'” (2001), a song written about and dedicated to Lil' Jon's then girlfriend. Featuring Ludacris, Too Short, Big Kap & Chyna Whyte, the song rose to No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 47 on the Billboard R&B chart. The album also generated the singles “Nothins Free” and “Put Yo Hood Up,” which peaked at No. 61 and No. 80 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, respectively, while the single “Who U Wit” peaked at No. 26 on the Hot Rap Singles chart.
On October 29, 2002, Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boys released the album “Kings of Crunk,” their second with TVT Records. It rose to No. 14 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and No. 1 on the Top Independent Album charts. The album went double platinum in the U.S. The debut single, “I Don't Give a F***,” featuring Mystikal and Krayzie Bone, rose to No. 50 on the R&B chart. It was the second single, “Get Low” (2003), featuring Ying Yang Twins, that gave the group a chart topper hit. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and the Hot Rap Tracks and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also used on the “Need For Speed Underground” soundtrack. “Get Low” has enjoyed additional success in several other countries, including Germany (#1), Austria (#2), New Zealand (#2) and Australia (#2). Also in 2002, Lil' Jon & The East Side Boyz, along with Petey Pablo, Bun B, and 8Ball, appeared as featured performers on the single “Rep Your City,” by E-40.
On November 4, 2003, a compilation album titled “Certified Crunk” was released by Ichiban, Ryko. The album climbed to No. 40 on the U.S. R&B chart, No. 197 on the Billboard 200 and No. 9 on the Top Independent Album charts. It was followed by an EP called “Part II” on November 25, 2003, released on TVT. The album rose to No. 37 on the Billboard 200, No. 7 on the U.S. R&B chart and No. 1 on the Top Independent Album charts.
On November 16, 2004, Lil' Jon & The East Side Boyz released the album “Crunk Juice” on TVT/BME. The album went to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Rap Albums and the Top Independent Album charts. It also rose to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and went double platinum in the U.S. The first single, “What U Gon' Do” (featuring Lil Scrappy), rose to No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 8 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart and No. 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. The song appeared in a season one episode of “The Andy Milonakis Show” when Lil Jon guest starred on the show (2005). The second single, “Lovers and Friends,” featuring Usher and Ludacris, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and No. 1 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. It also charted on the U.K. Singles Chart at No. 10. In addition, the album spawned the singles “Get Crunk” (featuring Bo Hagon), which peaked at No. 59 on the U.S. R&B chart and “Real Nigga Roll Call” (featuring Ice Cube), which went to No. 61 on the U.S. R&B chart and No. 38 in the U.K.
Lil' Jon released his solo debut single, “Snap Yo Finger” (featuring E-40 & Sean Paul of the YoungBloodZ), which he also produced, on February 4, 2006. The song peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Hot Rap Tracks. It was followed by “Act a Fool” (featuring Three 6 Mafia), which peaked at No. 91 on the U.S. R&B chart. Three years later, Lil' Jon released the singles “I Do” (featuring Snoop Dogg & Swizz Beatz) and “Give It All U Got” (featuring Kee), which peaked at No. 101 on the U.S. R&B chart and No. 90 in Canada, respectively.
Lil' Jon's solo debut album, “Crunk Rock,” was eventually released on June 8, 2010, on BME and Universal Republic. It rose to No. 49 on the Billboard 200, No. 8 on the top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and No. 5 on the Billboard Top Rap Albums chart. Released on March 30, 2010, the lead single “Ms. Chocolate” (featuring R. Kelly and Mario) went to No. 77 on the U.S. R&B chart. The second single, “Hey” (featuring 3OH!3), rose to No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 48 on the Canadian Hot 100. The song was featured on the “Jersey Shore” soundtrack.
Lil' Jon has produced numerous hit urban singles. In addition to producing songs of Lil' Jon & The East Side Boyz's, he has lent his producing talents to other artists like Youngbloodz, Ying Yang Twins, Bravehearts, Usher, and Pitbull, to name a few. He also made his feature acting debut in the 2005 film “Boss'n Up,” which was written and directed by Dylan C. Brown. The following year, he appeared on “Scary Movie 4” (2006), which was directed by David Zucker, written by Jim Abrahams, Craig Mazin and Pat Proft, and produced by Craig Mazin and Robert K. Weiss. In 2007, he provided the voice of the narrator in the TV miniseries short “Winter Tales.” His voice was later heard in two episodes of “Robotomy” called “The Playdate” (2010, as Mayor Buzzface) and “The Trials of Robocles” (2011, as Chief Suckerpunch) and in the 2010 TV movie “Freaknik: The Musical.” Lil' Jon made his directing debut with the direct to video “Vivid Vegas Party” (2005), starring Ayana Angel, Cherokee and Angel Eyes.