Chatting Up Lil Jon on Irie’s Wild Miami Weekend

The chat was fast and furiously fun. In a stairwell off to side of the summertime madness going down at the pool at Arkadia, DJ Irie, Lil Jon, and yours truly cracked wise, laughed loud, and caused a small ruckus. It was just us three, lensman Presscott McDonald, and ace handler Felicia Quaning. By the time we were finished, there was a break-off crowd of 50+ clicking away as if their day depended on it.

The occasion? Irie Weekend, when stars of stage, screen, and sport show their love for the Miami Heat’s official DJ. It’s all for a good cause, of course (Make-a-Wish), and it takes place in Miami’s hottest spots. Mostly, though, it’s a time for friends to get together again and remind each other what makes the world spin.

This year’s Weekend — the 7th — kicked off at Mokai, woke up on the links at (Melreese Country Club), segued through the Fontainebleau, then spent Saturday afternoon and night back at the resort’s latest great creation (Arkadia). Thursday’s launch was ostensibly private, which on South Beach means only 500 friends can attend. Jazzy Jeff and King Britt were in the booth, Alonzo Mourning (who’s got his own Zo’s Summer Groove coming up next month), LeBron James, Reggie Bush, and the like held court, and the beats didn’t stop till the proverbial break of dawn, despite the fact that a lot of folks were set to hit the links the next morning.

At Melreese the next day the mood was more club than country. Irie managed to mark 18 under par, the best score of the day even though he never left his cart (the advantage of being the host and bribing your caddy). I jest, of course. Irie’s got his golf game down, and so does the contingent that comes out to support him. Among those this year was Lil Jon, who brought along his son, DJ Young Slade. At 13, this with-it kid is already a veteran to many a mad throwdown. And he handled himself as if there’d be many more to come.

So it’s no surprise that Lil Jon was playing proud papa at Arkadia the next day. The Crunk Kingpin has a definite successor to his throne. What remains to be seen is how long it’ll be before the son unseats the father. Right now though they’re working in tandem. Lil Jon brings Young Slade to the party; Young Slade kicks it into overdrive.

Lil Jon is on the road too much to bring his boy everywhere of course. As our fast chat revealed, a couple days before his Weekend stint, Jon was in LA “hosting” a sceening for Lee Tamahori’s The Devil’s Double (“an amazing movie”). A couple weeks before that he was in Brasilia (“it was wild, man”). Next he’s in back Chicago (“we’re doin’ Enclave”), then it’s off to Australia for a full tour (“the first in four years”).

Up close Lil Jon is all smarts and candor. Sure, there’s some of that “Yeah!” that put him on the map, but it’s less boast than swagger. He’s a lean, keen music machine, and he knows he’s got the chops to prove it. Better yet, Jon’s genuine. That’s why he not only showed to support his good friend Irie on his momentous Weekend, but why he took time out to speak to just about anyone who wanted a minute, and why he did it all with such grace and cool. It’s also why Lil Jon brought along Young Slade. And why Young Slade is already living his bright future.

Whether it’s watching Flo Rida rock LIV or chatting up Lil Jon before he does the dizzy at Arkadia, it all makes for one wild Weekend in Miami.

Photos by Presscott McDonald