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Southern-fried hip-hop warms the night

Marking a change in the guard, Atlanta's Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz rule a high-energy 'Summer Jam.'

August 11, 2003|Soren Baker | Special to The Times

After 15 minutes of whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his group's ultra-hyper call-and-response, chant-driven music, rapper-producer Lil Jon handed his microphone to the Arch Bishop Don Magic Juan.

"It's time to get low," the rap scene celebrity and fan of Lil Jon's trio told the capacity crowd Saturday at KKBT-FM's "Summer Jam -- The Remix" concert at Universal Amphitheatre.

You'd never know from the deafening response that the audience had already participated in more than six hours of spirited performances once the hand claps, whistles and thunderous bass from Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz's "Get Low" cascaded through the massive speakers. It was as if the party had just started.

Hands were thrown recklessly into the air, and it seemed as though everyone in the building was screaming along to the Atlanta group's catchy chorus. In fact, the Boyz performed the song twice, to the delight of fans who were clearly waiting to hear the smash single from the group's "Kings of Crunk" album.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday August 13, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Lil' Kim -- In some editions of Monday's Calendar, a caption with a photograph of Lil' Kim suggested that the rapper is from Los Angeles. She is from Brooklyn.

As headliners of the popular radio station's (the Beat, 100.3) 10th annual concert gala, the acceptance of and appreciation for Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz represents a changing of the hip-hop guard.

Though New York and Los Angeles dominated the first two decades in which hip-hop music was commercially available, the South has emerged in recent years as the genre's creative center thanks to the steady success of such artists as OutKast, Three 6 Mafia and Ludacris.

It's a striking change for the region, which was long dismissed by hip-hop's brain trust as backward and irrelevant.

But it was clear Saturday that Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz were the ones the crowd came to see, even though more recognized stars such as Ashanti and Lil' Kim were also on the bill. Lil Jon, Big Sam and Lil Bo have become a hip-hop phenomenon thanks to their irresistibly addictive choruses, bone-crushing beats and relentless energy.

Anchored by Lil Jon, dressed Saturday in a white athletic outfit and sporting dark sunglasses, the Georgia group delivers one of hip-hop's most exciting stage shows. They skillfully blend one song into the next, going from such selections as "Put Yo Hood Up" to "Bia' Bia" without the useless banter that can bog down a performance.

The concert opened with another strong Southern act, Mississippi's maniacal David Banner. The rapper-producer's latest CD, "Mississippi -- The Album," brims with the same type of excitement as a Lil Jon release (Jon even produced a track on it), and Banner also delivers with the same type of force live.

These Southern artists succeed because they focus on making their performances parties, a fact not lost on the bill's veteran acts. Both Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew and Whodini started their shows with enjoyable medleys of classic songs from the Gap Band, Parliament and others before launching into their own memorable material. With careers that started more than 20 years ago, these hip-hop icons showed Saturday that they still have what it takes to move the crowd.

Los Angeles rap hero WC and controversy magnet Lil' Kim delivered strong, well-received sets that highlighted their extensive catalogs, while R&B pop princess Ashanti and upstart St. Louis rapper Chingy demonstrated impressive stage presence during their performances.

But it was clearly the South's night.

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