Entertainer, producer, entrepreneur and family man Lil Jon has been as busy as ever in 2011, with a Top 4 finalist showing on The Celebrity Apprentice and a new DJ residency in Las Vegas. The edgy multi-platinum selling rapper has been making hits since his first album with The East Side Boyz debuted in 1997. Jon earned the title King of Crunk for creating dazzling club anthems, and over the years has earned respect from peers and fans alike for his undeniable work ethic.
Lil Jon, now 39, shows no signs of slowing down on any level. Recently his 13-year-old son Nathan, aka DJ Young Slade, began releasing videos of himself mixing and scratching like a pro at various events. The teen was quite impressive on the turntables, but will Young Slade follow in his father’s footsteps in the music world?
UrbLife.com lured Lil Jon into the Parent Trap recently to find out how he’s handling his son’s career decisions, whether or not he’s ready to have “the talk”, and how he feels about parental roles in censoring entertainment. Read on…
You’ve been very active lately with your son and his DJ career. Was there ever a moment where you were nervous about it, or were you fully supportive from the beginning?
Lil Jon: DJing is basically like a hobby, so when he said that he wanted to start doing it, I was like, “Cool.” I wouldn’t be nervous. That’s like if your kid said that he wanted to play football or basketball. It’s something similar to all of that, you could turn it into a career later, but in DJing you could turn it into a career sooner than you can football, basketball, or baseball. We got him some turntables, started practicing, and he also got enrolled in Scratch DJ Academy.
Do you fell that it was important for him to learn the foundation of that craft?
LJ: Yeah. I DJ on vinyl now even though I use Serato, so definitely. In Scratch DJ Academy, they teach them how to work with vinyl first before getting into Serato. He learned that from jump.
How active are you in talking to your son about sex, or about living the fast life with his friends?
LJ: He doesn’t go to regular school, so that’s kind of keeping him away from some of the nonsense. His mother and I are tough on him, and he doesn’t want to get on either one of our bad sides. He has pretty good morals. He’s 13-years-old, he talks to his friends about that sort of thing and I’m sure he knows something, but we haven’t had that heart to heart.
Are you nervous about having “the talk” with him?
LJ: No, he’s a smart kid. He’s really intelligent. A dad talking to his son is easier than a dad talking to his daughter. It’s not going to be too tough.
How much did you ever allow your son to be in the studio or in any room while the type of music that you are associated with in your career was playing?
LJ: My private life is my private life, and my work life is my work life. It was separated. I don’t make music for 10-year-olds. Of course he’s going to hear it now, and he’ll hear it on the radio. If you instill the right values in your kids, they won’t use the curse words or sexual words in the song.
As an adult, I can listen to some stuff around my son. If it’s a little too ‘out there’, I wouldn’t play certain stuff around him when he was younger. Right now he’s 13 and a lot more mature.
There is frequently the argument of whether is it the artist’s responsibility or the parent’s responsibility to keep that music out of kid’s ears. What was your stance on that?
LJ: I don’t get all deep or socially conscious about any of that sh*t. When we were little, we used to listen to Richard Pryor and we weren’t supposed to. That didn’t f*ck us up. It’s just about instilling the values in your child. [Parents] have to be the role models.
When it comes down to business, what are the things that you want your son to get from a Celebrity Apprentice show or from the business moves that you made? What are key elements from the way you move that you want him to absorb?
LJ: Keep focused, stay on top of your game, treat everyone with respect, and show everyone love. Be patient, because nothing happens overnight.
What’s the best advice that your son has given you so far?
LJ: Just when I come home, he’s missing me and all of that. That’s advice to me, saying that I need to try and come home a little bit more and just do more things with my family. He just shows me how important family is.
The little things… I’ve never missed a birthday for him ever. When he cries when I leave, it shows me what’s important in life.
What if your son comes to you and says “I’m done being a DJ, I want to be a rapper.” What would you say to him about that?
LJ: He won’t do that, because he’s so focused on DJing. He’s so intelligent. He’s acting and modeling. Right now he’s so tuned into DJing; he doesn’t want to be a rapper at all. He’s not going to move from that, like that is his thing and he’s already starting to develop a name for himself. He’s getting paid to do parties and a bunch of different stuff.
He knows that that’s his niche and he’s going to stick with it. He knows how much it is to be a rapper. It’s so many rappers out here. He has a bunch of friends that dance, and he’s tried it but he knew that that wasn’t his thing. He’s going to stay with what works with him.
What is the best advice that you would give your son about going on a first date?
LJ: He’s already been on dates. The advice that I gave him was to be cool and be you. Don’t try to do too much. Be funny, be nice, be you.
Tell us a little about what’s coming up next for you.
LJ: I have a Halloween mask coming out soon. More TV coming. Records coming later this year. A bunch of different stuff, just grinding it out!