Lil Jon finding success in Las Vegas
December 24, 2010 - 12:00 am
Since pop culture has emasculated the male experience for so many decades, there aren’t a ton of manly voices in the public domain. It’s a depressingly Coldplay world — no offense to Coldplay.
That’s why male and female consumers have gravitated toward male leads on the TV shows “Mad Men,” “Californication” and even “30 Rock.” Those are men’s men who make man sounds. They can wear suits. They can punch you in the face if you mess with their women.
In the music industry, it’s primarily hip-hop guys who vocalize in deep, male tones. Look at Lil Jon and Jay-Z. They exude genuine confidence — like men who do manly things with manly concerns in manly ways.
Here in Vegas, Lil Jon is now regularly bringing his masculine vocals to the DJ mic at Surrender. He spins once a month at the Encore nightclub, and returns this Wednesday.
When I tell him my theory that his voice resonates for being manly, he says he’s never thought about it that way.
“I don’t know what it is about my voice, but it makes people just want to get wasted and party,” he says.
Lil Jon is not wrong about that. He is the king of the interjection, punctuating hit songs with a trademark gruff “OK,” “Yeah!” and “Shots-shots, shots-shots-shots-shots!”
In fact, through most of 2010, whenever I’ve gone on the Vegas Strip with a certain female friend, we have inevitably looked at each other early in the night and chanted Lil Jon’s clarion call, “shots-shots-shots” from his collaboration with the band LMFAO.
Lil Jon laughs when I tell him that.
“It’s amazing that has become part of culture now. When people want to go get drunk, or somebody says, ‘Let’s get a shot,’ they immediately sing that song. I think that’s truly amazing.
“That song is gonna last for (expletive) ever. It captured a moment. Whenever you can capture a moment, your song won’t die. That’s another one I can put on my list.”
Lil Jon conceived and recorded his “Shots” chorus in mere minutes, after LMFAO e-mailed him the demo and asked if he would like to punctuate it.
“LMFAO had done their part. It was a song, but it wasn’t what it is. The first time I heard it, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is a (expletive) smash.’ I just laid my parts in 20 minutes and sent it back, and they were like, ‘Oh (expletive).’ ”
It may seem odd to you that Lil Jon can create an iconic soundbite so quickly. But he’s talented, obviously. And he’s accustomed to collaborating.
“Me and Pitbull started dabbling in that world years before other artists did. When we had the ‘Anthem’ (a club staple), that was four or five years ago! That was before all the commercial artists and the hip-hop artists started collaborating with dance and house producers. We were way ahead of the game.”
Lil Jon says he’s got one overriding factor in his favor.
“I just like good music. I like to make people dance and party. It don’t matter what tempo it is,” he says.
And he can mix it up.
“I’ve never been the one to be put in a box. I did ‘Tell Me When To Go’ for E-40. I did ‘Blow the Whistle’ for Too Short. And then I can go do Southern rap records. And then I can go do ‘Yeah.’ And then I can go do ‘Turbulence’ with Steve Aoki. And then I can do ‘Out of My Mind’ and ‘Shots’ with LMFAO. You can’t just put me in a box.”
He explains to me that he’s been familiar with multiple genres since he was young.
“I was a punk-rock kid. Then I went through New Wave, where I was into Depeche Mode and all that, and then hardcore (expletive).”
And he’s been DJing for years.
“Right before they (other DJs) were starting to get to acid, that’s when I was into house. I’ve been into different phases. I’m a DJ. When you’re a DJ, you love all different types of music.”
Now, DJs spin Lil Jon’s voice because, as he puts it, “I’m one of the world-renowned party guys.” But when Lil Jon does his own spinning from the DJ booth, he can make crowds go even crazier — because the real Lil Jon is in front of them.
He’s been spinning on and off in Vegas for years, at Hard Rock’s Rehab and Vanity, at Planet Hollywood’s defunct Prive, and lately Surrender, which asked him to do this DJ residency.
“The best thing about Vegas is, you’ve got people from all over the world coming to party. Nobody’s gonna just be standing around and (expletive).
“And if you’re a really good DJ, you can really make people lose their (expletive) minds.”
That’s right, man.
Doug Elfman’s column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.Preview
10 p.m. Wednesday
Surrender at Encore, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South