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Lil John is the stage name of American DJ, music producer and rapper Jonathan Smith, who gained fame as the frontman of Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz. Having played an important role in the emergence of the hip-hop subgenre Crunk, the performer won a Grammy for the song "Yeah!" and the Academy of Recording nomination for the video for the song "Turn Down For What", which was actively rotated on YouTube and MTV.

Jonathan Mortimer Smith, best known as Lil John, was born on January 17, 1971 in Atlanta to a middle-class family. As the eldest of five children of employees of the American military-industrial corporation Lockheed Martin, the boy spent his early years caring for his growing siblings.

During his years at Frederick Douglas High School, Jonathan started a company and met Robert McDowell, Duane Searcy and Vince Phillips, who became his friends and business partners for years to come. The teenagers were fond of skateboarding and in their free time they worked part-time in a store selling bicycles and special equipment for extreme sportsmen.

Once in the American program of "magnetic schools", the young man began to specialize in the field of art and, having completed training in a youth orchestra, became interested in the process of mixing and playing musical compositions.

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Despite the fact that the parents raised their children in strictness, they supported their son's hobby and allowed Jonathan to hold house parties, where he improved his DJ skills. The events, called "Old Eng and Chicken Parties", were held in the basement of the Smith family and brought together dozens of teenagers who were fans of electronic music.

Having honed his skills on peers, Smith began working in local dance clubs, and then moved to a popular establishment in downtown Atlanta and met the owner of the So So Def Recordings label, Jermaine Dupree. A new friend found Jonathan, who took the pseudonym Lil John, a place in the record company. He significantly influenced the creative biography of the aspiring musician, having appointed him executive vice president of the regional department of the studio.

Smith's first project was the Def Bass All-Stars compilation, recorded with the help of local rappers DJ Smurf, Shawty Redd, Raheem The Dream and Playa Poncho. Released on May 22, 1996, it received the RIAA Gold Certification and launched a series of records over the next 2 years. In parallel, the talented organizer and producer put together his own team called The East Side Boyz, which included rappers from East Atlanta Big Sam and Lil 'Bo.

Lil John in The East Side Boyz Lil John in The East Side Boyz
In 1996, the new band released the single "Who U Wit?", Which introduced listeners to a new form of hip-hop, consisting of repetitive melodic pieces accompanied by an electronic rhythm section and later called crunk music. At first, the public was cool about John's new project, but thanks to advertising organized on the radio, they started talking about him.

In the early 2000s, after the release of the album "We Still Crunk!", The tracks from which climbed to high places in the Billboard charts, The East Side Boyz was visited by the executive director of a reputable New York recording studio. Impressed by the energy of young musicians, he signed a contract with the group, securing a national level.

The collaboration with TVT Records has resulted in the album "We Still Crunk !!" with the song "Get Low", released as a separate single.

In 2004, Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz recorded the multi-platinum album "Crunk Juice" and disbanded a year later due to creative and financial conflicts with the record company. In an attempt to resolve the situation and fulfill his obligations to TVT Records, Lil John released the solo single "Snap Yo Fingers", after which the studio canceled the contract with the artist, leaving him without a significant part of the profit.

After that, the rapper moved to Universal Republic Records and recorded an album called "Crunk Rock", which peaked at # 5 on the Billboard Rap Albums and # 8 on the Billboard R & B / Hip Hop Albums. The song "Hey", featured as the album's title track, was shown on MTV Jersey Shore. And the composition "Outta Your Mind" appeared in the film "Project X: Dorvali" and was used in the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance".

In 2011, Lil John co-wrote the duo LMFAO and wrote the music for the trailer for the movie "Armageddian", and then together with the French DJ known to the public as DJ Snake, he released the album "Turn Down for What". The song of the same name from him brought the performers the MTV Video Music Awards.

Realizing that teaming up with other musicians has great potential, the rapper continued to look for creative partners. Since 2014, he has collaborated with dance group Zumba Fitness, rappers Tyga and Yandel, as well as American singer and actress Becky G.

Experimenting with sound and stage image, Lil John recorded the Christmas single "All I Really Want for Christmas" with support from Kool-Aid, a soft drink company. Then he performed several duets with his renowned colleague Eminem.

Since 2004, Lil John has been married to his girlfriend Nicole. Together, the couple are raising a son, who followed in his father's footsteps and began to study music. The boy, now known to the public as DJ Slade, is the object of admiration for the rapper and his wife.

Despite the fact that Lil John spends a lot of time in the company of his family, the details of the musician's personal life remain outside of social networks, limited to the publication of photos and videos directly related to work and charitable activities.

Natural modesty does not allow the musician to advertise good deeds, such as opening schools in Ghana and helping low-income students who approached the rapper via Instagram in organizing educational trips around the country.

At the end of 2018, Lil John finished acting in short videos advertising the products of the world famous Pepsi-Cola holding.

The musician is currently preparing for upcoming concerts scheduled for early 2019. The first part of the American tour includes the cities of San Diego, Las Vegas and Cancun.

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