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Anatomy Of A Hit: ‘Turn Down For What’

How an unknown French DJ, a rapper without a recent hit and their team took a song with just 12 words to the top five on the Billboard Hot 100.

How has DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What” ruled Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart for seven weeks running and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100? The song’s stars and talents behind the scenes explain.

The DJ: DJ Snake
“I initially made the song with a Redman sample [2007’s ‘Da Countdown (Saga Continues)’]. We tried to clear it but he wasn’t down, so I decided to send it to somebody else to [recreate it]. The first person in mind? Lil Jon. He’s energetic – I knew he’d be best for it.”


The Voice: Lil Jon
“When I heard it, I was like, ‘This beat is crazy but the Redman sample just don’t fit.’ I go in the booth, and the first track I laid was crazy. I sent Snake the track back, and he said, ‘You changed it?’ I said, ‘F– that Redman sample! This is crazy.’ The rest is history.”

The Exec: Columbia Records vp A&R Imran Majid
“I was watching a big Auburn-Georgia football game in November. In the final seconds, the quarterback throws a Hail Mary touchdown, and the stadium plays ‘Turn Down for What.’ That’s when I was like, ‘This is a moment.’ We did the [single] deal at the end of the year.”

The Directors: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan
Kwan: “The idea was a guy humping his way through a building. Each floor would have its own series of gags.”

Scheinert: “Originally they were going to crash down one floor further into a Taco Bell and all eat. That’s the answer to the question ‘Turn down for what?’ – everyone turns down for Taco Bell.”