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DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

To many present-day listeners, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince are best-remembered for launching the superstar music/acting career of the latter, now known by his real name of Will Smith. In their heyday, however, the Philadelphia duo played a major role in making rap music accessible to pop audiences, as well as younger listeners. Smith's raps were never anything more than PG-rated, and his genial, winning personality came through in the good-humored stories that many of his best raps wove. His partner, Jeff Townes, was one of Philadelphia's best DJs, an inventive scratcher who provided appropriately playful backdrops. At a time when rap wanted to establish itself as the authentic voice of the streets, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince were often ridiculed as bubblegum kiddie rap -- they weren't aggressive, outraged, gritty, or urban enough to fit the prevailing hip-hop fashion of the time. However, in hindsight, it's clear that the duo's appeal was a natural result of simply being themselves, not from pandering to middle-class youth or posing as something they weren't. That's why the best of their work still sounds lively, full of youthful energy and breezy wit, and ranks as some of the most infectious pop-rap of its time.

DJ Jazzy Jeff (born Jeffrey Townes, January 22, 1965) and the Fresh Prince (born Willard Smith, September 25, 1968) got together in 1986, when they performed together at a house party after years of separately pursuing hip-hop around the Philadelphia area. Later that year, they performed at the New Music Seminar, where Jeff placed first in the DJ competition; the attention helped them land a record deal with Jive and the Fresh Prince turned down his acceptance into M.I.T. Their first single, "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble," was built around a sample of the theme from "I Dream of Jeannie," and the humorous video began to build the duo an audience through MTV. It helped their 1987-released debut album, Rock the House, go gold and set the stage for their breakthrough success with the 1988 follow-up He's the D.J., I'm the Rapper. One of the first double-LP sets in rap history (thanks to a number of tracks showcasing Jeff's turntable artistry), it also became one of the genre's biggest sellers up to that point, moving more than 2.5 million copies after the comic video for "Parents Just Don't Understand" became a runaway hit on MTV. A playful riff on the generation gap, "Parents Just Don't Understand" hit number 12 on the singles charts, went gold, and won the first-ever rap Grammy; the duo toured extensively behind it, aided in their dealings with concert promoters by their non-threatening image.

Hip-hop, however, was an extraordinarily difficult field in which to sustain career momentum. Even though it was released only a year later, And in This Corner... failed to generate nearly as much attention -- despite going gold -- partly because the lead single, "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson," failed to catch fire. The album was also hurt by a rapidly changing hip-hop climate; De La Soul's rapturously received debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, had succeeded in bringing positivity and humor to hip-hop with less of a comic-novelty flavor and seemingly countless new pop-rap fads were springing up by the minute. Fortunately, Smith's performances in the duo's videos had attracted notice in the television world. Convinced of Smith's potential to become a warm, charismatic, clean-cut star in the acting world, NBC gave him a starring role in a sitcom named after his rap persona, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which followed a young Philadelphian sent to live with his rich relatives in California to keep out of trouble. Although Smith wasn't yet a seasoned actor, executives were correct about his comic appeal and the show became a hit, running for six seasons; Townes was given a recurring role as Smith's character's street-wise friend (aptly dubbed Jazz).

Although Smith had taken a hiatus from DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince to concentrate on getting his sitcom off the ground, the duo reconvened in 1991, buoyed by their increased visibility. Featuring more outside productions, Homebase returned Townes and Smith to the platinum sales mark and produced their biggest hit ever in the warm, laid-back party tune "Summertime," where Smith nostalgically reminisced about summers growing up in Philadelphia in a way that appealed to listeners of all ages. "Summertime" became their first and only Top Five pop hit, peaking at number four. A follow-up LP, Code Red, was released in 1993, but didn't sell very well at all in the U.S.; oddly, the single "Boom! Shake the Room" became their first number one hit in the U.K. Nonetheless, Smith decided to focus full-time on his acting career, appearing in the critically acclaimed Six Degrees of Separation (also in 1993). Proving he could cut it on the big screen, Smith went on to star in numerous big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, including Independence Day, Men in Black, Enemy of the State, Wild Wild West, and Ali (the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination); he also returned to music as a solo artist, selling millions more albums than he did with DJ Jazzy Jeff thanks to his enormous exposure. Townes, meanwhile, formed a production company called A Touch of Jazz, and worked as a producer and mixer for several hip-hop and R&B artists (including a few of Smith's solo cuts). ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Very Best Of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

1. Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble (Album Version)

2. The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff (Edit)

3. A Touch Of Jazz

4. Parents Just Don't Understand

5. A Nightmare On My Street

6. Brand New Funk

7. I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson (Radio Mix)

8. The Groove (Jazzy's Groove) (Feat. Grover Washington, Jr.)

9. Summertime (Edit)

10. Ring My Bell (Mr. Lee's Radio Mix)

11. The Things That U Do (Hula Radio Remix)

12. Boom! Shake The Room

13. I'm Looking For The One (To Be With Me)

14. I Wanna Rock

x

Track List: Platinum & Gold Collection

1. Parents Just Don't Understand

2. A Nightmare On My Street

3. Summertime

4. Boom! Shake The Room

5. Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble (1988 Extended Remix)

6. I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson

7. I'm All That

8. He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper

9. Too Damn Hype

10. Pump Up The Bass

11. Rock The House

12. Just One Of Those Days

x

Track List: Code Red

1. Somethin' Like Dis

2. I'm Looking For The One (To Be With Me)

3. Boom! Shake The Room

4. Can't Wait To Be With You

5. Twinkle Twinkle (I'm Not A Star)

6. Code Red

7. Shadow Dreams

8. Just Kickin' It

9. Ain't No Place Like Home

10. I Wanna Rock

11. Scream

x

Track List: Homebase: The Remixes

1. Summertime (Single Edit)

2. Summertime (DJ Jazzy Jeff's Mix)

3. Summertime (Extended Club Mix)

4. Summertime (Extended Bass Mix)

5. Summertime (DJ Jazzy Jeff's Instrumental)

6. Summertime (Instrumental)

7. The Things That U Do (Hula Radio Remix)

8. The Things That U Do (Totally Bumpin' Vocal)

9. The Things That U Do (House Mix)

10. The Things That U Do (Underground Mix)

11. The Things That U Do (Club Mix)

12. The Things That U Do (Vic's Drum Interlude)

13. The Things That U Do (Totally Bumpin' Instrumental)

14. Ring My Bell (Mr. Lee's Radio Mix)

15. Ring My Bell (Hula & K. Fingers Radio Mix)

16. Ring My Bell (DJ Jazzy Jeff's Radio Remix)

17. Ring My Bell (Mr. Lee Club Mix)

18. Ring My Bell (Hula & K. Fingers Club Mix)

19. Ring My Bell (DJ Jazzy Jeff's Street Mix)

20. Ring My Bell (7" Album Edit)

21. Ring My Bell (DJ Jazzy Jeff's Street Instrumental)

22. You Saw My Blinker (Lynn Tolliver's Radio Edit)

23. Yo Home To Bel-Air (Extended Version)

x

Track List: Homebase

1. I'm All That

2. Summertime

3. The Things That U Do

4. This Boy Is Smooth

5. Ring My Bell

6. A Dog Is A Dog

7. Caught In The Middle (Love And Life)

8. Trapped On The Dance Floor

9. Who Stole The DJ

10. You Saw My Blinker

11. Dumb Dancin'

12. Summertime (Reprise)

13. Ring My Bell (Mr. Lee Radio Mix)

x

Track List: And In This Corner...

1. Then She Bit Me

2. I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson

3. Jazzy's Groove

4. Everything That Glitters (Ain't Always Gold)

5. You Got It (Donut)

6. The Girlie Had A Mustache

7. The Reverend

8. Who Stole My Car?

9. The Men Of Your Dreams

10. Numero Uno

11. Too Damn Hype

12. Jeff Waz On The Beat Box

x

Track List: He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper

1. A Nightmare On My Street

2. Here We Go Again

3. Brand New Funk

4. Time To Chill

5. Charlie Mack (The First Out The Limo)

6. As We Go

7. Parents Just Don't Understand

8. Pump Up The Bass

9. Let's Get Busy Baby

10. Live At Union Square, November 1986

11. DJ On Wheels

12. My Buddy

13. Rhythm Trax (House Party Style)

15. Hip Hop Dancer's Theme

16. Jazzy's In The House

17. Human Video Game

x

Track List: Rock The House

1. Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble

2. Just One Of Those Days

3. Rock The House

4. Taking It To The Top

5. The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff

6. Just Rockin'

7. Guys Ain't Nothing But Trouble (Feat. Ice Cream Tee)

8. A Touch Of Jazz

9. Don't Even Try It

10. Special Announcement

Comments

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Ayyy my jam
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Oh my god, the memories. I still love The Fresh Prince of Belair!!!
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I love the fresh prince of Bel air also. I like will alot in the show especially when he picks on Carlton alot and when he and Hilary both butt heads most of the time. Ashley ' the only cousin will got along until she turned into a snob when he helped her with her music career.
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nice
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My family and I always watch this on holidays
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Love the prince of bel air
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Boom boom Shake The Room?..Class i c ! !
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I love this song
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Fake a**
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Summertime.. . . . . . . I miss you, tired of winter already :(
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SUMMERTIME! HELL! U CAN ALWAYS BUMP THIS YEAR ROUND! I REMEMBER WHEN THIS CAME OUT. THEY COULDNT STOP PLAYING THIS ON THE RADIO!
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So cool
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Love 90s rap
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I like this song takes me back lol
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hosangjr.h14 2 4
SummerTime is one of the best songs ever and not just for the summer.
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Will Smith is the best rap artist ever
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✌��
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Legend...... . . . .
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This song is amazing
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Your crush will ask you out if you post this on 5 other songs
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The show needs to come back the fresh prince of bel air is good
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PHILLY FOR SURE .VINNY DEE. BREWERYTOWN HUSTLERS FOR LIFE. CABOT ST
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vrolston
Miss the show
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YouTube/Mala t o faction turn it up
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I'm big fan i use to DJ
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His my fan #1 I like all his music his a Philadelphia kid
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get jiggy
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��
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He's the Dj I'm the rapper , was the very first hip-hop album to win a Grammy. But the presentation was not shown on t.v., so all the rappers boycotted. Nuff respect due , there is unity in hip- hop !!!
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Forever the Summertime Anthem!! Can u smell the grills burnin'!?
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yvonneartisf
This jam will Never get Old ���� it!!!
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Classic
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This is the jam. Classic. On a nice hot day.!!
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This song starts my summer evry Summer
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wett1nine
Who would've ever thought this this guy would become the icon he is today.
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Classic and reminds me of a somone with a last name Martinez
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Classic!!
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shakeelatbro w n
This song will always be a summer time classic!
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Yo!,it's time to unite jaZZy Jeff and the fresh prince...
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This bring back memories
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jbachiller42
Brings back memories of great summer days as a teenager!!
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The lyrics are everything!! ����������
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Best time of the year Summer Time :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
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Amashing, shimply amashing.
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C p dB
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Don't read this u will be kissed by the love of Ur life the nearest friday Since you already Started reading this u have to post it on 15 other songs in 143min or else you'll get bad luck when Ur done press the space bar and Ur crushes name will appear it's so creepy
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Still love him. He made a hell of a career out of nothing. God bless him.
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Best rapper
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Heyyyyy reminds me of Home go Philly
Show more

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