GRAMMY Award-winning producer, rapper, and DJ Lil Jon can’t shake Dave Chapelle’s impersonation of him from the early 2000s. During a TCA press conference to promote his new HGTV series, Lil Jon talked about how strangers come up to him pretty much anywhere he’s out in public, trying to get him to shout “What, Yeah, Okay” at them. “We had to put the ‘what’ in the title of the show,” he joked. Lil Jon Wants to Do What? premieres today on discovery+ and HGTV.
The “what” in the title is home renovation, a hobby that started out of necessity when the artist’s Atlanta home flooded. Stuck indoors during the pandemic, Lil Jon turned to HGTV for inspiration and ended up connecting with expert builder and designer Anitra Mecadon, who worked on his home. “I made my home a resort so I never want to leave,” Lil Jon shared. “I have streams in my backyard, waterfalls, beautiful landscape lighting at night, a putting green. I've built another house so I can have a studio in there. I even got a hookah lounge in my house. I built a hookah lounge in my house. Everybody likes to smoke hookah. It's the in thing. I was like, you know what, let's just make this a little hookah lounge. It's a room that in a traditional home, nobody ever goes in. The room that has the plastic on the furniture, you know what I'm talking about, that room? We made that the hookah lounge.”
“Jon has such a passion for this, and he's so considerate of the homeowner's wants and needs and financially the money they have to spend,” Anitra Mecadon revealed about the artist’s approach to renovating strangers homes in each episode. “You can see their energy from the moment he enters and how relaxed they are by the moment he leaves. Like, okay, we're in good hands. They know they're in good hands. He's a really great listener. I mean if you think about it, in the world of music, that's all auditory, and they get it. He's listening to everything they want and need.”
As a duo, Lil Jon and Anita also work hard to get their clients a bang for their buck. “We do everything we can to get them as much as we possibly can for the dollars that they put in,” Anita explained about the resourcefulness of the show, which often upcycles old furniture and even scraps. “ We want the fancy granites or stones, and so we've learned where things go to die, and we go picking through those graveyards. We call the stone place and say, ‘Hey, where are your broken slabs?’ And you get it for a fraction of the cost. You still have to pay for the fabrication but we get that high-end vibe and that high-end look for a lot less than you normally would. You've got to get creative when you're doing builds as grand as we're doing with design ideas as wild as the ones that come out our heads.”
Homeowners not only get bragging rights that Lil Jon did their renovation, but the artist makes every effort to personalize their space while also infusing his unique sense of whimsy. “It's not like me, I'm going in and putting fur on the walls,” he shared. “My personality is really out there, they think that's what I'm doing in these houses and that's not what it is. It lends itself to the family, what they need in the house. 'Cause when we go, we go into the home, I sit down with the homeowners or we hang out or we do things. Me and Anitra look around the home to see what their style is. We don't want something that doesn't fit with the homeowner. We want something that's in them, but they don't even know it's in them.”
You can watch Lil Jon and Anitra Mecadon transform homes into incredible spaces in Lil Jon Wants to Do What? tonight at 10/9c on HGTV. Episodes will also be streaming on discovery+.