Lil Jon 'Crunk Rock' Album Premiere
Even when he's running on a couple of hours' sleep, Lil Jon is still bursting with energy. Sitting in an airport on his way to Canada on a May afternoon, the rapper/producer known for his crunk music-a fusion of hip-hop, rock and electro-raspy "Yeah!" and "OK!" adlibs and love of pimp cups, eagerly talks about his new project, "Crunk Rock." The album is due June 8 on Universal Republic, but exclusively here on Billboard.com you can hear previews of all of the songs before they are released.
It's been six years since Lil Jon has released an album --2004's "Crunk Juice," which has sold 2.5 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Although the album was well-received, a dispute with and the eventual closure of his label, TVT Records, led Lil Jon to take a hiatus.
"TVT and I were going through difficulties, and then TVT fell out and went under, but even before then I was burnt out and tired because I had done so many records back to back," says Lil Jon, who as a result tapped into his roots and began DJ'ing again, landing gigs all around the world and leading to the eclectic sound of his new set. "It was pretty much two years of me just touring and DJ'ing and just really going back to my essence. By doing that, it gave me a newfound energy."
Video Below: Lil Jon discusses the new album.
The album features production from Drumma Boy, DJ Chuckie, Dr. Luke and Lil Jon. Guest appearances include Soulja Boy Tell'Em, Stephen and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Ice Cube, Game, Elephant Man, R. Kelly, Mario, Pitbull, LMFAO and 3OH!3. Two singles have been released: "Outta Your Mind" reached No. 28 on Billboard's Rap Digital Songs chart, and "Ms. Chocolate" peaked at No. 77 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Additionally, he recently collaborated with Miley Cyrus and Christina Aguilera on tracks for their forthcoming albums.
"This album is different because it reflects pop culture," Universal Records president Monte Lipman says. "The last album was a hardcore hip-hop record from the South, but this record reflects the times with plenty of dance and club influences. That's what Jon does-he's a genre-buster. He touches them all and he's always done that."
Universal Republic senior VP of urban music Lynn Scott says the label's plan of attack is to hit Lil Jon's target market-"Men between the ages of 18 and 24 who absolutely dig his music"-from all angles. Two commercials will run on Spike TV, MTV, VH1 and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Lil Jon is scheduled to appear on various late-night shows, including "Chelsea Lately" and "Lopez Tonight." BET's "106 & Park" and MTV2's "Sucka Free" show are also penciled in.
A "win it before you can buy it" campaign will run on urban and crossover radio, where fans can call in for a chance to win the deluxe version of "Crunk Rock." Lil Jon is also hitting crossover radio markets in his hometown of Atlanta and Los Angeles, as well as visiting bars and strip clubs with postcards, stickers and music.
Online, Scott says there will be ad placements on iTunes, Amazon, Yahoo and AOL, as well as a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, Lil Jon will have release parties in major cities, including one at Greenhouse in New York, one at the Playhouse in L.A., and others in Miami and Las Vegas. The artist will also maintain his Vegas DJ residency while he promotes the new album.
If all that wasn't enough, Lil Jon produces his own wine, has a reality show in the works and continues to promote his Crunk Energy Drink, recently introducing two new flavors.
No matter the outlet, Lil Jon says he will keep transmitting his energy to his fans. "I have to keep giving it to them because my energy might get them through their day," he says. "I'm here to make people feel like they can release stress, have a good time, be positive and live life."