Lil Jon returns with new energy, new album

Sat Jun 5, 2010 12:43am EDT
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By Mariel Concepcion

NEW YORK (Billboard) - 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 -- eagerly talks about his new project, "Crunk Rock," due Tuesday (June 8) on Universal Republic.

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 burned 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 that inspired 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."

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."

Lil Jon, who will maintain his Vegas DJ residency while he promotes the new album, also produces his own wine, has a reality show in the works and continues to promote his Crunk Energy Drink.

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."