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Billboard is celebrating the 2010s with essays on the 100 songs that we feel most define the ten that was — the songs that both shaped and reflected the music and culture of the menstruation — with help telling their stories from some of the artists, sub-rosa collaborators and industry insiders involved .

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Lil Jon

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Before “ Turn Down For What ” was an external shoot, it was merely an unsigned lead being hustled to open format cabaret DJs by its co-creator, Lil Jon .

The august rapper and ‘ 00s crunk headpin had gotten involved with the song in 2013, when a then-largely-unknown french manufacturer named DJ Snake got in touch, requesting Lil Jon lay vocals over Snake ’ s brawny beat. ( This vocal music would be replacing a Redman sample Snake had previously inserted. )

up to the challenge, the artist born Jonathan Smith sequestered himself in his Atlanta studio and got to work writing lyrics, cursorily coming up with the song ’ mho nominal question, a give voice he would ultimately repeat 15 times on the traverse. The writing process then became a bit more philosophically challenging .
“ I had to ask myself, ” Lil Jon says, “ ’ what are we actually turning down for ? ’ ”

As it turned out, the answer would be nothing. “ Fire up that loudly, another round of shots, ” he wrote over the adjacent few hours, sealing the song ’ second hyphy, hard-partying sentiment — an ideal match to the track ’ s dizzyingly escalate synths and massive drop. With the lyrics complete, Lil Jon passed the track spinal column to DJ Snake.

“ We didn ’ metric ton know how big of a record it was, ” he says, “ but we both knew this s–t was a smash. ”
What neither artist could have predicted is that “ Turn Down For What ” would become a worldwide phenomenon and the first major hip-hop/EDM crossover, with the song bringing a rap swagman and sensibility ( along with one of the genre ’ s most recognizable voices ) into the burgeoning EDM scene. The song blew up in and good beyond both genres, ultimately becoming cultural shorthand for the cartoonishness of the EDM moment itself when it was spoofed on Saturday Night Live ’ randomness 2013 EDM parody curtly “ When Will the Bass Drop ? ” ( “ Get turned up to end ! ” Lil Jon exclaims in the clip. )

But before all of that happened, people had to hear the sung, with Lil Jon taking on the A & R role by blasting it to all the club DJs on his electronic mail list. ( “ Like, everybody, ” he says. ) Over in France, Snake was spooked by the move, which he believed was going to affect the song ’ s chances of getting signed. “ Snake was like ‘ What the f–k, don ’ thymine do that, ” Lil Jon recalls .
But the move worked, gaining the track “ a wholly s–tload ” of momentum in clubland. “ DJs made this phonograph record a hit, and that ’ second because the energy of the song was perfective for any open format DJ hardening, ” Lil Jon says. “ Before it was big EDM DJs playing it at festivals, it was open-format DJs slam it. ”
This ballyhoo led to a command war between Interscope and Columbia, with the latter label signing the song. The path spent 37 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 4, and became a go-to party starter not good for rap heads or the swelling issue of EDM fans, but mainstream audiences who heard it on the radio, at sporting events and in commercials, movie trailers and late night television receiver bits .
even Michelle Obama got on board, using the track in a 2014 Vine video for a healthy consume political campaign. ( “ Turnip for what ? ” the then First Lady asked while clutching the said vegetable. ) This ubiquity was compounded by a video recording directed by filmmaking couple Daniels, in which an absurdly lascivious supporter sparks an entirely turned up house party after humping his way through the floors of an apartment construct. The clip was punch-drunk, memorable and a mainstream sensation, going viral upon release and racking up a current 913 million streams on YouTube .
“ It was a cross-genre type thing, with hip-hop drums, EDM synths and me good catering to everybody, ” Lil Jon says of the song ’ randomness genre-spanning musical composition. “ I think that ’ s why the record was sol big. It created thoroughly energy for people to party or just get crazy, from small kids to grandparents. ”

Songs That Defined The Decade