DJ Snake & Lil Jon's Unanswerable Question
"Turn Down For What?" This might just be the question of the year. Apparently, no one has a good enough answer though, because the charts have yet to turn down this hit by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. The infectiously catchy single has been coasting at the #1 spot of Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart for nine weeks and running, having set up camp on the chart 24 weeks ago. Despite how often it’s heard in clubs, the first night of a music festival, or even on the radio, people cannot get enough of it. I still find it hard to restrain myself when I hear it, and it’s become a wildly entertaining activity to watch hordes of people lose their minds the moment Lil Jon first screams his query out.
Perhaps you find the tune way past its prime, but “Turn Down For What” is the product of a strong formula for making highly entertaining music. For one, the song fully embraces the relevance of “turn up,” a concept and phrase that has become a staple of pop culture vernacular, much like the way “selfie” has. Listeners also eat up Lil Jon’s energetic voice, which carries the presentation of an absurdly simple set of lyrics that I am pretty sure even a toddler could memorize. Talk about widely accessible. This is partly why Lil Jon has been associated with so many hits; it’s his modus operandi that has worked since his days with the East Side Boyz. Think about it: there is no other artist who has achieved such high levels of distinction just by screaming out one-word statements. “What?” “Okay.” Bark it enough at mass amounts of people and I doubt you will be as successful as Lil Jon has been at doing the same thing.
To ensure the track’s full virulence, DJ Snake creates a soundscape that really does make you reflect on any inclination to turn down. The French producer uses a bass riff that – with the right speakers – would question the structural integrity of any arena. If you don't believe it, you likely haven't seen the ridiculous music video for the track yet.
DJ Snake also mixes in a steady stream of hype man-like “AYE!”’s, and details the track with a clapping sample necessary for any twerk jam. The combination of this along with Lil Jon’s steady loop of friendly interrogation is enough to shock the life into anyone who hears the song. And who doesn’t love a pump up song that everyone in your entourage can not only engage with, but use as a tool for mutual peer pressure?
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to turn down for. I tend to turn down for Mom, turn down for job, and generally for anything that restricts me from being a fully functional adult on the weekdays. But no matter where I am when I hear this jam, for 3 minutes and 27 seconds I am hopelessly filled with reckless uncertainty. Because of this, DJ Snake and Lil Jon have won. They’ve challenged our yearning to chill, and it only took four words and an unforgettable beat.
Written by Anita Obasi
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