He started a solo career in 2010, and has appeared on television’s The Celebrity Apprentice.
Jonathan Smith, known professionally as Lil Jon, was created on January 17, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, he studied for a couple of years at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Then he returned to Atlanta, where he started making appearances as a DJ at hip hop nightclubs.
After obtaining knowledge of the Southern hip-hop arena at So So Def, Lil Jon started his career as a performer. He was among the originators of a design called “crunk,” a Southern-based offshoot of hip hop that mixes drum machine beats, electronic keyboard tunes and vocal chants. This hit was followed by the record Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album, the first of six records that Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz released jointly. The group’s first nationwide played single was 2001’s “Bia’ Bia’,” which featured appearances by Ludacris as well as other well known musicians.
Meanwhile, Lil Jon brought his abilities to many other artists’ records. As a producer, he worked with vocalists as varied as Ciara, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Britney Spears. He co-composed, produced and sang on Usher’s single “Yeah!,” among the greatest hits of 2004.
His first solo album, Crunk Rock, premiered in 2010; its singles included “Outta Your Mind” and “Ms. Chocolate.” He’s made guest appearances on dozens of other artists’ records.
He also continues to act as a nightclub DJ and is a co-owner of the record label Black Market Entertainment.
Lil Jon in addition has appeared in films, including Soul Plane and Scary Movie 4, in addition to two seasons of the reality-television show The Celebrity Apprentice, hosted by Donald Trump. In 2011, he put in the top four, competing alongside Meatloaf, John Rich and Marlee Matlin. He returned to the show in 2013.
Lil Jon wed Nicole Smith in 2004. They’ve a son, Nathan “Slade” Smith, who’s an aspiring DJ and performer.