DJ Jazzy Jeff
You may know him as Jazz from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. You may know him from your old school favorite "Summertime" with his partner Will Smith (the Fresh Prince). You may know him through some of your favorite R&B artists like Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott or The Roots. Maybe you even know him from his episode series Vinyl Destination.
Wherever you may know him from, it is known that DJ Jazzy Jeff is a legend behind the turntables. Since the young age of ten, Townes had a passion and love for music that came into fruition while spinning records at parties.
Since the '80s, DJ Jazzy Jeff has had and continues to have great success; even as the music industry evolves through the ages.
Having gained popularity overseas and a fan base in and out of the Hip Hop community, he continues to tour the globe and spin a dope mashup of your favorite records.
On November 13, 2014, DJ Jazzy Jeff rolled through the small (but vibin') city of Tucson, AZ.
A little less than an hour before his set, fans spotted him sitting in a a black leather booth with the rest of his crew, unhesitatingly shaking hands with those who approached him.
He is as cool and collected as you picture him being.
After his set, I await to interview him outside in the the patio with much explaining on my end to the venue security and management (because by this time the club had been cleared out and it was no longer "legal" to have me there).
[Journalist tip: contact the venue staff and management prior to the event, as well as the interviewee.]
Townes comes out and takes a seat in front of my good friend, Kiara, and I like he was meeting up with two friends who were waiting for him at the end of the night.
Here's the short but sweet interview with DJ Jazzy Jeff:
J: You’ve been spinning records since you were ten years old, what’s been your drive?
DJ: Love of music. Simple and plain. Love of music over everything. Over business, over everything. You always come back to music.
J: In honor of it having been throwback Thursday, what is your favorite throwback of you and Fresh Prince?
DJ: Can’t name it. Can’t name that. I can’t solo any of ‘em out. All of them are equally important.
J: Okay, a random throwback.
DJ: I can’t, can’t.
(he smiles and nods)
J: Too good?
K: How do you stay so passionate throughout all of your work? You’ve been in the game for a minute and you are so passionate, just like your face, focused.
DJ: Like I said, it’s the love of music. You know, trust me, it drives me crazy. It wakes you up in the middle of the night and makes you zone out. People don’t understand that you’re thinking of stuff but it’s just a love. What other thing can you put on and change somebody's emotion, instantly?
J, K: Music.
(we all agree)
J: What advice would you give to aspiring DJ’s?
DJ: Ooo, that’s a tough one. I would want to tell them to find what your niche is. If there’s a hundred deejays, why would someone pick you? You gotta figure out what that thing is and drive with it. Deejays used to have a lot of personality and it got to a point that you could replace the deejay with any other deejay because everybody kind of plays the same. And granted, you have to play some of the same songs but I think that you have to show some kind of an identity that can separate you from everybody else. I’ve always said that at the end of the night when people walk out, they don’t ever walk out talking about the Drake song that you played. They talk about that song that they didn’t expect you to play and didn’t expect you to play it when you played it. So you always have to add those signature things in and kind of separate yourself from everybody.
J: So what do you believe your thing is?
DJ: I don’t know if it’s necessarily a thing. Sometimes it’s certain records just… you know, I play everything. I came up when it wasn’t a Hip Hop deejay or EDM deejay, it was just a deejay. You had all kinds of music and you played all kinds of music and as it kind of went on, everybody kind of got separated and started calling themselves specific deejay’s but name me one person that you know that likes one type of music.
J: Well I don’t. I like all kinds of music. So from the 80s to now, what’s the biggest notable change you’ve seen in the industry?
DJ: That this is the biggest that deejaying has ever been and I never expected that. You know, you always knew that deejays were always going to be around but the explosion in the 2000s of the deejay is just… you know, I probably work more now than I’ve ever worked in my life and I’ve always consistently worked. And everybody wants to be a deejay now. I think with that notoriety, it’s a gift and a curse. With the notoriety, again, everybody wants to be a deejay. Some people who don’t need to be a deejay want to be a deejay. But it also brings and sheds light on to something that, you know… I know a lot of deejays that used to deejay that used to say that the rappers used to push them on the back burners and now that rappers are asking [the deejay], ‘What are you doin’ this weekend.’ So you see a whole paradigm shift.
J: I’m wondering if 2014 was everything you expected it to be because I saw one of your episodes on Vinyl Destination where you were like, ‘I wonder what 2014 is going to bring.’
DJ: It’s been great. It’s been great. We probably did close to 130 dates. We just came back from a month long European tour. I have two more dates and then I’m home for two weeks before we go to Asia and Australia for a month. So it’s working. I think everytime we play, we play for someone to ask you to come back. When you can look on your calendar six months in advance and know where you’re going to be, it’s definitely a blessing.
J: What is 2015 going to bring?
DJ: Oh God. I’m taking office for September 2015.
(we laugh and the PR gives me the 'wrap it up' signal)
J: Could we possibly see you and Fresh Prince reunite one day?
DJ: We’ve been talking about it. Like you know, the desire. Its just, he’s probably the biggest movie star on the planet and the movie people don’t like me too much because I want to pull him in the studio but, I mean, we talked about it. We talked about setting aside some time in the New Year and just going somewhere for a month and just knocking the door. Yeah I’m keeping my fingers crossed. He’s actually came out to a couple of the shows. I was in Dubai for New Years and he called me two days before and asked me what I was doing ‘cause I didn’t think he was gonna show up.
J: This past New Years?
DJ: Yeah. And he showed up and he was blown away. So anytime he sees stuff like that he gets the juices flowin’. Like, ‘yo man we should, we should.’ So let’s see.
Thank you Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails for letting me interview the legend after hours. Thank you Vinyl Destination crew for being patient. Thank you Kiara for being my lovely partner for the night. And thank you DJ Jazzy Jeff for being extremely genuine and I look forward to the next time I get to see you!