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DJ JAZZY JEFF

“Jazzy Jeff” Townes was born January 22, 1965. By the time Jeff had made it to John Bartram High his skills as a DJ had progressed to a level that had him doing shows on the block party/ballroom circuit in West Philadelphia. Jeff rolled with many crews and emcees around Philly but it was 1985 when he met Will Smith on the house party circuit. Jeff’s regular MC was away so Will stepped on the mic and the chemistry was instant. They shared the same kind of humor and hit it off straight away. By the summer of 1986 Will and Jeff had teamed up to released their first single, “Girl’s Ain’t Nothin But Trouble” as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” was the first hip-hop song to sample a TV show theme, “I Dream of Jeannie” and it soon began to chart. During this time, Jazzy Jeff entered in the 1986 DMC New Music Seminar. The Philly DJ wasn’t known as a battle DJ but his routines were so impressive he walked away with the Championship. Having made their mark on the music seminar in just a year of forming Jive/Zomba bought out the initial word up record contract that Will and Jeff had signed. Now on a major label, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s debut album Rock The House was released in 1987. Rock The House contained one of the first hip-hop records dedicated to the DJ, “The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff.” On the record Jeff displayed all his skills, he also popularized the “transformer scratch” by being the first to put it in on a record. Jazzy Jeff’s own invention the “chirp scratch” was also displayed in which Jeff would make the record sound like a bird. The album also contained “A Touch of Jazz” which was one of the first Jazz/Rap Records released. The duo’s sound caught on and Rock The House went Gold. In 1988 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince followed up “Rock The House” with “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper.” The record was one of the first hip hop double LP’s. The first side focused on Fresh Prince’s storytelling while the second side focused on Jazzy Jeff’s DJ’ing prowess. The second single from the album, “Parent’s Just Don’t Don’t Understand” became a huge hit, creating hip-hop crossover and gaining regular play on MTV. The success of the single propelled He’s the DJ to one of the greatest selling rap albums of the time, quickly going double platinum. The record was one of the first to pay serious homage to the DJ and Jeff’s scratches were heard worldwide. It inspired many young listeners to pick up the Turntables and emulate what Jeff was doing. Many DJ’s to this day cite those early DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince albums as a reason they become a DJ in the first place. Meanwhile Jazzy Jeff continued to advance the DJ art form. He became the first corporately sponsored DJ and he designed the first mixer for scratching the “Gemini 2200” or Jazzy Jeff Signature Series. In 1990 the Fresh Prince hooked up with Quincy Jones and NBC to star in the sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Jeff joined the Fresh Prince on the TV show and played Will’s best friend “Jazz” for the shows entire 6 year run. [more]

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