DJ Jazzy Jeff is one of the OG’s of rap and we are stoked to see him live at this year’s Dusk Music Festival on 10/6. Before we watch him spin some fresh beats, we thought we might school you on some facts about his past.
Many know the performer from his work with actor and musician Will Smith. Before the duo were on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air together, they were a rap duo with Jazzy Jeff laying the tracks and Smith as the vocals. Since then the two have remained close friends and have produced five studio albums and are rumored to be working on a sixth. They recently performed their newest collaboration “Get Lit” live at the Livewire Festival.
In 1989 Smith and Jeff won the Grammy, for “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” But the two chose to boycott the event because the awards show was not going to televise the brand new category of best rap performance. Smith felt that it was slap in the face to artists of color who were pioneering the brand new sound.
Both musicians were born and raised in West Philadelphia and used to attend local block parties in the neighborhood. One night, Jeff was scheduled to do a set, but his MC went AWOL. The first person to walk in the room while Jeff was setting up, was Will. Will volunteered to fill in and the rest is history.
DJ Jazzy Jeff took the best parts of summer camp and “amped” them up. He created the Playlist Retreat as “an intimate gathering of progressive artists for the purpose of inspiration, motivation and collaboration. It is an organic exchange between people who believe in the greater purpose of expression through music.” Since 2015 he’s been inviting over 100 producers, DJ’s, singers, and songwriters to his home for a four day retreat.
The man is prolific. Since his time with Will, he’s gone on to work on 15 solo projects and over 30 collaborative projects. He’s produced music with Eminem, Jill Scott, and he even worked on “Deep, Deep, Trouble” with Bart Simpson; and the remixes from The Simpsons Sing the Blues.
Jeff is widely credited, alongside DJ Cash Money, as being the first DJ at the turntable to create the sound known as the “transformer scratch.”
Catch DJ Jazzy Jeff live this fall at the Dusk Music Festival on October 6, at Rillito Park.