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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

Comments

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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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Philly Philly n**gas know what it is
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Best rapper
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Heyyyyy reminds me of Home go Philly
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Fresh Prince!!!
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tiagotiago2
They made the right choice with the edits done to the theme of Fresh Prince of Bel Air


The full song is full of awkward parts
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ebonyl_long
Is and will always be the best Summer jam made!
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Summertime is coming!!!
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lulilovesboo k s
I like deez dudes
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I can't w8 till the summer time. Because the weather in the Midwest suck
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This was playing on Eminem radio
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Dumbass song
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Ya know the guy who played Carlton on the Fresh Prince of Belair? He's the new host of AFV (America's Funniest Home Videos)
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How do you find Will Smith in the snow?

Follow the Fresh Prince!

Lol I know it's a bad joke, but that's what makes it funny. I love that show and I know all the lyrics to this song
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Love it
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yo tha man jazzy.
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This my jam!!!!!!!On my street!!!!!! ! ! H E L L ' S YA FREEDY FREAK!!!!!!
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tmrabdelrbai h a
My jam
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This is pretty cool! I thought I wouldn't like it at first.
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toshajosh
I love ngnite mare on my street
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The show is epic
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This too throw back i love this song i was a little a** girl when this came out frfr
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jclgraham0
I love the song a nightmare on my street
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Summertime nice cut
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Watts up
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DONT READ THIS. YOU WILL BE KISSED ON THE NEAREST POSSIBLE FRIDAY BY THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE. TOMORROW WILL BE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. NOW YOUVE STARTED READING THIS DONT STOP THIS IS SO FREAKY. But if you read this and ignore it then you will have very bad luck. PUT THIS ON 15 SONGS IN 143 MINS. WHEN YOU ARE DONE PRESS THE SPACEBAR AND YOUR CRUSHES NAME WILL APPEAR IN BIG LETTERS ON THE SCREEN THIS IS SO FREAKY IT ACTUALLY WORKS
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Fresh prince is his only good song. Lol
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Post what
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Post this on 5 other songs and your crush will kiss you on Friday
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Old Skhool Man
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I grew up on this show
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Yo Word peace out




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interesting
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Flowing maxi dress in my closet calling my name right now pretty mani/ pedi Hurry Summer
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Yo will simth is the man
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I love the show
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Jazzy Jeff and the fresh Prince were some of the best rapper's of the 80's
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This show was dope
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Omg so classic I like this why can't everything be music like tis
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