Timing, TVT Right For Lil Jon's Success

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz can thank TVT's tenacity for the act's successful year. The Atlanta-based trio of Lil Jon, Big Sam and Lil Bo have taken their gospel of crunk to the masses with their TVT sophomore set, "Kings of Crunk."

Released in October 2002, the album has gone on to sell more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"I don't know if we thought it would take off to the point that we thought we would win an American Music Award, two Source Awards and have all of the other success that came as a result of the album being so well-received," says Bryan Leach, TVT VP of urban A&R.

"We went into it knowing that it had the potential to be big. Even before we started recording, the whole idea was to make a Southern version of [Dr. Dre's] 'The Chronic,' so expectations were high," Leach says.

After releasing two albums independently, the trio signed a deal with TVT Records. Its first TVT release, "Put Ya Hood Up," went gold, selling more than 602,000 units.

The group owes much of its success to "Get Low," its collaboration with labelmates the Ying Yang Twins.

"'Get Low' was really what catapulted us to platinum," frontman/producer Jon says. "The combination of us and the Ying Yang Twins, as well as the tempo of the record -- which was more uptempo than any other record we had put out before through TVT -- just worked."

The single peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

"The timing was right. Bone Crusher and David Banner had come through and opened the doors a little more," Lil' Jon adds, noting fellow Southern-based hip-hop acts who gained mainstream attention this year. "They made people more aware of crunk music and the South. It was all of that shit at once."

Capitalizing on the group's success, TVT recently released "Part II," a CD/DVD combo.

Released Nov. 25, the project includes two "Get Low" remixes-the merengue mix and another remix featuring Busta Rhymes and Elephant Man. It also has two previously unreleased cuts: "I Don't Play That," featuring T.I. and 8Ball, and a remix of "Put Yo Hood Up," featuring Roy Jones Jr., Chyna Whyte, Jadakiss and Petey Pablo.

The DVD contains a video diary chronicling the group's rise to fame.

Next up, the trio will be featured on TVT's "Crunk & Disorderly" compilation. Released Dec. 9, the set also features tracks from TVT newcomer Pitbull, Three 6 Mafia, Lil Flip, Trina and YoungBloodz, among others.

According to Leach, the group plans on returning to the studio in January 2004 to record its next studio album, due in late summer next year.

In addition to a new Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz set, Jon is in great demand as a producer. He has already contributed tracks to new albums by Usher, Bravehearts, Mobb Deep and Mystikal, among others.

And Jon doesn't just do music. He has lent his voice to MTV's made-for-TV movie "Volcano High." The trio will make its feature-film debut next year in Jessy Terrero's "Soul Plane."




Excerpted from the Dec. 6, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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