Classics: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime (Jive)
What famous actor Will Smith managed to do on screens along with Martin Lawrence (cf. ‘Bad Boys’), he most likely did it too musicwise as The Fresh Prince. Although with Jeff Townes, better known as DJ Jazzy Jeff. This resulting in the release of 5 albums between 1987 and 1993. With the twosome earning a Grammy Award in 1992.
The lead single of their fourth album – ‘Homebase’, ‘Summertime’ has most definitely an instant appeal. With thanks to its positive lyrics. Standing as a brilliant and uplifting interpolation of Kool & The Gang‘s seminal ‘Summer Madness’. This with production work courtesy of Hula K. Fingers. Featuring singer LaVette Goodman on the background vocals who later on released a couple of singles on Strictly Rhythm.
The success of ‘Summertime’, more than 15 years after the release of ‘Summer Madness’, is another illustration of the impact this classic had on a whole generation of artists. From Guru to Aaliyah and Erykah Badu. Not to mention Ray Hayden (Opaz) or Jerald Daemyon among others…
In addition to this, ‘Summertime’ came to get extra exposure in 2008. Eventually standing in the OST of the Jonathan Levine directed ‘The Wackness’. This along with other classics such as The Notorious B.I.G.‘s ‘The What?’ featuring Method Man or Faith Evans‘ ‘You Used To Love Me’. Not to mention Nas‘ ‘The World Is Yours’, A Tribe Called Quest‘s ‘Can I Kick It?’ and R. Kelly‘s Bump N’Grind’ among others.
The first word comin’ to mind about the meeting between Philadelphia DJ/producer Jeff Townes aka DJ Jazzy Jeff and emcee/Rapper Will Smith aka The Fresh Prince is chemistry. With the twosome spreading a rare easiness. Obviously meant to be jammin’ together, they went on to regularly take the floors by storm during their 6 years of collaboration.
A collaboration which has given birth to 6 albums between 1987 and 1993. And, by that, 25 singles with a bunch of serious gems and no less than 2 Grammy Awards.
‘Rock The House’, their debut-album saw the light on Word-Up. Eventually bringin’ them to the attention of Jive Records. But also gettin’ them to tour with Public Enemy and Run DMC. Meanwhile its follow-up – ‘He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper’ – got them to earn their first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’.
The 90’s would get the duo to reach a higher status. This with the help of more in yer face concept. From the memorable ‘Summertime’, interpolating Kool & The Gang‘s classic ‘Summer Madness’ which stands as their biggest classic ever. Eventually seeing them getting their second Grammy. This in addition to their swingin’ version of Anita Ward‘s ‘Ring My Bell’ and ‘The Things That U Do’.
‘Code Red’, their final album back in 1993, confirming their inclination for the Swing. This with ‘Can’t Wait To Be With You’ featuring Christopher Williams on a sample of Luther Vandross‘s ‘Never Too Much’. But also ‘I’m Looking For The One (To Be With Me)’ with production work courtesy of Teddy Riley and his brother, Markell. And, last but not least, ‘Boom! Shake The Room’ to be added to their greatest classics.
Although the twosome have remained in good terms, they came their respective ways after the release of ‘Code Red’. With Smith comin’ up to act full-time.
In 1998 Jive eventually came with a Greatest Hits compilation and two previously unreleased songs. But the duo didn’t return, no more than record any new material. They could be seen though sporadically performing together, like in 2005 in their hometown. Then, more recently, during the Summer of 2017 in Croatia and England. On his side, DJ Jazzy Jeff has been a regular for instance at the memorable Masters At Work parties during the Winter Music Conference in Miami, FL.
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