What?! The Moore?! The "King of Crunk" comes to Seattle, and he's playing a theater?! Oh, well. It's going to feel like a club when Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz take the stage...

Share story

What?! The Moore?!

The “King of Crunk” comes to Seattle, and he’s playing a theater?!

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

Oh, well. It’s going to feel like a club when Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz take the stage tonight.

Crunk, a term that comes from the nightclub culture of Atlanta — probably a contraction for “crazy drunk” — is all about cranking up the beat (especially the bass), drinking and dancing until dawn, and sex, sex and more sex.

While he didn’t invent the term, Jonathan “Lil Jon” Smith owns it. Legally. He trademarked the word, and even has a high-energy performance drink on the market called “Crunk!!!”

He also has the No. 1 selling porno video, “Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz: American Sex Series.” He doesn’t “perform” on it but is in many of the scenes, commenting on the action and egging on the “actors,” including pouring water on their naked bodies.

Concert preview

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, 8 tonight, Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle; $35 (206-628-0888, www.ticketmaster.com or www.hob.com; information: 206-467-5510, www.themoore.com, www.liljononline.com).

But what really makes Lil Jon, at 32, the King of Crunk is the phenomenal success he’s had as a songwriter, producer and performer. He started as a DJ at his own house parties while still in high school. The parties were legendary, because Smith’s wealthy parents’ six-story house had a swimming pool and party room, and he had all the money he needed to buy records. He became a top club DJ, then worked at recording studios as a songwriter and producer before forming his own hip-hop group with friends Big Sam and Lil Bo.

While Lil Jon has written and produced a number of hits for others, and Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz have had several hit albums, his biggest success so far has been Usher’s “Yeah!” party anthem, which will probably turn out to be the most popular single of 2004. It helped make Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’s new “Crunk Juice” album, its fifth, one of the most anticipated, best-selling hip-hop CDs of the year.

“Yeah” — stretched out to “yeaaaaaah!” — is one of Lil Jon’s signature expressions, along with “whuuut?!” and “okaaaaayyyy!!” In a running joke on his Comedy Central show, comedian Dave Chappelle dons a dreadlock wig, Oakley special-edition Crunk sunglasses and fake gold teeth and portrays Lil Jon yelling just those three words, over and over.

In addition to Usher, Lil Jon has created hip-hop smashes for Petey Pablo, Youngbloodz, Ying Yang Twins, Pitbull, Ciara, Ludacris and others.

While cleaned-up versions of his songs and videos turn up on radio and TV, the X-rated originals are meant for clubs and parties. Variations of a racial epithet are all over his tracks. There’s hardly a lyric that isn’t dripping with obscenities and crude sexual references. While his is adult music with adult themes, the Moore will probably be filled with teenagers tonight, because they make up Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’s fan base.

Opening acts have not been announced. If hip-hop tradition holds true, the show will start late, then a DJ will spin tunes for an hour or so, followed by a long intermission, then a lame opening act, another long intermission, and, finally, a short, intense set by the headliners.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or pmacdonald@seattletimes.com