Remember the days when it was OK for Hip Hop to be clean and fun? When it was OK not to talk about guns, drugs, money and bitches and when no profanity was needed? DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were a Hip Hop act even your mom could be down with, but that make them soft nor wack. Jazzy Jeff is one of the best Hip Hop DJ’s ever, and a true pioneer and innovator (one of the inventors of the ‘transformer’ scratch). The Fresh Prince was an excellent emcee – with storytelling abilities, flow, humor, and charisma.
Together they made some excellent Hip Hop, especially in their earlier career. For this list we have selected 15 of their best cuts – are your personal favorites in there?
15. So Fresh (1999)
“The B-I-G, W-I-L-L / King of swing, and I rock well / The nail in the coffin of your average rapper / Jeff do the ditto for your average scratcher…”
Not an ‘official’ DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince track maybe (because it’s taken from Will Smith’s solo album Willennium), but a dope reunion in any case. A perfect throwback joint, this is a tribute to Hip Hop’s early days, with guest spots from legends Biz Markie and Slick Rick (and a lot of cameos of other pioneers at the end of the video). Gotta love it.
14. Rock The House (1987)
“When we rock the house there is no doubt (is no doubt) / That me and Ready C will turn it out (turn it out) / We’re down with the DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazzy Jeff) / And you know that we are def (that we’re def) / And you should not settle for less / Than the undisputed best…”
Kind of goofy and rough around the edges, this live track features frequent collaborator, beatboxer Ready Rock C. A fun party track and the title track to a more than solid debut album, released in 1987 – when Jeff and Will were no more than kids. A great prelude to their mega- successful album He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper from the year later.
13. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson (1989)
“I’m rough like a freight train smooth like ice / And yo Jeff, straight up, I think I can beat Mike Tyson”
By 1989 and with the release of their third album, Jazzy Jeff’s and Fresh Prince’s names were firmly established. This track is another example of Will Smith’s talent for comedic storytelling.
12. I'm All That (1991)
“Here I am in the flesh (Who is) I’m the funky, funky, funky fresh / Rhyme authority, rhythm connoisseur / Hip Hop liaison, rap Ambassador / Duke of daring, the king of the cut / Prince of poetry and all that stuff…”
The opening track of the duo’s fourth album has Will Smith spitting fast and braggadocious rhymes over a super funky bass line laid down by Jazzy Jeff. Excellent opening track.
11. Jazzy's Groove (1989)
“You know, a lot of deejays, they’re just short pieces of statues / My deejay’s swift and exciting and coming at you / To other deejays Jeff is just too much / He doesn’t use the line switch as a transform crutch / Never missing beats, always on time with the rhyme / You know the scratches are fine when intertwined with a bass line…”
One of the duo’s trademark cuts where The Fresh Prince’s rhymes are there to support Jazzy Jeff’s beats and turntable wizardry (and not the other way around). Got to love the days where the DJ was just as an important part of a Hip Hop crew as the emcee was.
10. He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper (1988)
“My rhymes have been written, not to be bitten / But as it seems, some suckers keep forgettin / The rules about rappin, but that’s alright / Cause in the next five minutes I’ma have them all uptight…”
Will Smith went off on this track. Shows how underrated he is as an emcee. The instrumental and Jazzy Jeff’s scratches are on point too, as usual. The video included here is the extended version that only appeared on the cassette release.
9. Just One Of Those Days (1987)
“Have you ever in your life experienced a day / Where nothing at all seems to go your way / No matter how hard you try to get out of the rut / You just could not break the string of bad luck / A day where Murphy’s law takes over your life / And you just can’t seem to do a darn thing right / And when the day was over you just had to say / You said man it’s just one of those days…”
Trademark early Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince. In the storytelling vein of their debut single “Girls Are Nothing But Trouble”, Will Smith humorously recounts a string of bad lucks events in a singularly bad day.
8. Jeff Waz On The Beatbox (1989)
“There was a party the other day, around my way / They asked if me and Jeff would play, we said okay / We dipped out to get the hip-hop apparatus / Came back with the posse in full effect status…”
Great scratches, great beats, great rhymes – great track!
7. Boom! Shake The Room (1993)
“Yo back up now and give a brother room / The fuse is lit and I’m about to go boom / Mercy, mercy, mercy me / Uh, my life is a cage but on stage I’m free…”
From their last album as a duo, this is one of their biggest hits and a party- and club classic. Who doesn’t know the lyrics to this one?
6. Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble (1986)
“Just last week when I was walking down the street / I observed this lovely lady that I wanted to meet / I walked up to her I said hello / She said: “Hey! You’re kind of cute” I said: “Yes, I know, but… / By the way, sweetheart, what’s your name?” / She said: “My friends like to call me exotic Elaine” / I said: “My name is the Prince” and she said: “Why?” / I said: “Well… I don’t know, I’m just a hell of a guy…”
The duo’s debut single – which ingeniously interpolates the theme song to TV Show “I Dream Of Jeannie” – immediately showcases The Fresh Prince’s talent for humorous storytelling. This was an underground / sleeper hit in 1986 and firmly set the attention on these two talented kids from Philly.
5. Parents Just Don't Understand (1988)
“Well parents are the same no matter time nor place / So to you other kids all across the land / Take it from me, parents just don’t understand…”
The second single from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s second album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper and one of their biggest hits. Much hated on for its overly commercial appeal, it’s a dope track nonetheless. It also arguably is THE track that was the basis for the Fresh Prince persona of the later TV hit series, which in turn was the stepping stone for Will Smith’s later superstar career.
4. The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff (1987)
“Well, it’s true that I’m the reigning king of the throne / But with all my strength, I couldn’t do it alone / I need a deejay like (Jazzy) to back me up / So when I’m rockin on the mic he’s on the crossfade cut / Scratchin and mixin, mixin and scratchin / Second after second it’s the record he’s catchin / His hands are so fast that it’s a medical riddle / With the turntable split and the mixer in the middle / Back and forth his hands fly / With the speed of a cheetah that’ll puzzle your eye…”
Another perfect example of how a DJ and MC can complement each other, in an era when the DJ was at least as important a part of the group as the MC was.
3. I Wanna Rock (1993)
“Now I’m the Prince and that’s Jazzy Jeff / We shown for years that we are def / But here’s some more for y’all to just come get it / Rip the wheels J – hit it…”
And another one where Jazzy Jeff gets the spotlight, this track is extra catchy and recognizable because of the sampling of Rob Base’s classic opening lines of the Rob Base & EZ Rock classic “It Takes Two”.
2. Summertime (1991)
“Here it is the groove slightly transformed / Just a bit of a break from the norm / Just a little somethin’ to break the monotony / Of all that hardcore dance that has gotten to be / A little bit out of control it’s cool to dance / But what about the groove that soothes that moves romance / Give me a soft subtle mix / And if ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it…”
Their biggest hit and a track impossible to dislike. A feel good summertime anthem if there ever was one. Classic.
1. Brand New Funk (1988)
“It’s new, it’s out of the ordinary / It’s rather extraordinary, so yo bust this commentary / A literary genius and a superior beat creator / Have come together and we made a / Musical composition which we think is a remedy / To cure all the dance floors that’s empty / You wanna dance? / We got what you want / Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince bustin out with the brand new funk…”
The first single from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s most successful album, He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper. This classic cut features some of Jazzy Jeff’s most infectious sampling and production, complemented by The Fresh Prince’s dope lyrics – this is true Hip Hop.