DJ Jazzy Jeff

DJ Jazzy Jeff
Jazzyjeff 061111.jpg
DJ Jazzy Jeff in 2011
Background information
Birth nameJeffrey Allen Townes
Also known asJazz
BornJanuary 22, 1965 (age 54)
Occupation(s)Record producer, DJ, actor, comedian
Years active1985–present
Associated acts

Jeffrey Allen Townes[1] (born January 22, 1965), known professionally as DJ Jazzy Jeff or simply Jazz, is an American record producer, DJ, actor and comedian who is best known for his friendship and collaboration with Will Smith as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.[2]

Early life and career beginnings[]

Jeffrey Allen Townes was born on January 22, 1965 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[3] Early on, he developed a reputation and a following as a school and Block party DJ.

He was ten years old when he first became interested in being a DJ. He told author Paul Stenning, "At summer time block parties I wouldn't be the one dancing, I sat where the DJ was set up, watching him. Even when I would go to other block parties in other neighborhoods I was still infatuated with the DJ. He was the guy that played music that everyone in the neighborhood loved. You might not have known his face, you might not have known his name but he was the guy that made everyone move."[4]

He took the stage name DJ Jazzy Jeff and was one half of the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince along with Will Smith. The group received the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for "Parents Just Don't Understand", though their most successful single was "Summertime" which earned the group their second Grammy and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.



When Smith branched out into television with the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jazzy Jeff played a recurring character named Jazz, Smith's best friend on the show. In the early seasons, the two characters always greeted each other with their signature handshake (swinging mid-five, point-back, snap with both characters saying "Pssh!"). A recurring joke throughout the show's run involved the character being physically ejected from the house by Uncle Phil (James Avery), using the same footage for comedic effect.

Hamburg, Germany 2002


One of the first records DJ Jazzy Jeff ever appeared on was with The Korner Boyz (Street Artz Records) "Bust The Move and The Soga of Roxanne", which featured legendary Philadelphia rapper, MC Parry P and Grand Tone. The Instrumental was called "Jazzy Jeff Scratch" (1985). DJ Jazzy Jeff along with DJ Cash Money is cred with making the transformer scratch famous.[citation needed]

As a duo, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince had several gold and platinum-selling albums and singles in the late 1980s and early 1990s, earning them the first rap Grammy Award ever presented in 1989 for "Parents Just Don't Understand."[5]

At the time of winning the Grammy Award DJ Jazzy Jeff came home crying as he had just $500 in the bank.[6]

They also won a second Grammy for "Summertime".[7]

After DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince broke up, Townes went on to become a prominent R&B, soul, and neo soul record producer, establishing the A Touch of Jazz production company in his native Philadelphia. Among the artists that Jazzy Jeff has helped develop are Eric Roberson, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Eminem, The Roots, Jewel, Darius Rucker, Talib Kweli, Floetry, Rhymefest, and many more. Even though he separated from Will Smith as a music partner, they are still friends, and occasionally work together.

Some songs by Smith were produced by Townes (including “Here He Comes"), and he has performed on some songs by Smith such as "So Fresh" and "Potnas." In addition, he appeared in several of Smith's music videos such as "Will2K" and "Freakin' It". On some occasions, he made appearances with Smith at live concerts, producing DJ scratches. On July 2, 2005, DJ Jazzy Jeff performed with Smith at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia. Moreover, Smith acknowledges him in his music such as "Comin' To The Stage" from the album Lost and Found and "Potnas" from his album Willennium.

His 2007 release The Return of the Magnificent featured numerous collaborations with old school and new school artists including CL Smooth, Big Daddy Kane, Pos from De La Soul, Method Man, Peedi Peedi (a remake of Brand New Funk), Rhymefest, and Raheem DeVaughn. In 2007, he appeared with Rhymefest in a video directed by Konee Rok, in which he makes music in his home recording studio with Rhymefest.

In 2008, Townes performed with Smith at the premiere of the latter's 2008 film Hancock.[8]

In 2009, he made a mixtape titled He's the King...I'm the DJ in honor of the late entertainer Michael Jackson. Townes was featured in the video game DJ Hero as a playable character. He also has some original mixes in the game.[9]

In 2010, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick (formerly known as Mick Boogie) teamed up to release "Summertime: The Mixtape" series. The mixes are released every summer.[10]

In 2013, DJ Jazzy Jeff performed with Will Smith on the Graham Norton Show.[11] Also that same year, DJ Jazzy Jeff released Vinyl Destination,[12] a web series documenting his hundred plus DJ shows from all around the world. He also appeared as the lead interview in Paul Stenning's book, Success - By Those Who've Made It.[13]

In 2015, he performed the scratch overdubs for the film Straight Outta Compton.[14]

In August 2017, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith performed 2 shows in Europe: MTV Summerblast Music Festival in Croatia and Livewire festival in Blackpool.[15]


Solo work as DJ Jazzy Jeff[]

As DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince[]


Personal life[]

DJ Jazzy Jeff graduated from John Bartram High School in Philadelphia in 1982. He has 2 sons, Amir and Cory, A daughter, Jayla and a set of twins.[16]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 159. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ DJ Jazzy Jeff; Wilder, Chris (2013-03-26). "DJ Jazzy Jeff on the 25th Anniversary of "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper"". Philadelphia Weekly. Archived from the original on 2013-08-31.
  3. ^ Kellman, Andy. "DJ Jazzy Jeff". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  4. ^ Stenning, Paul (24 November 2013). Success - By Those Who've Made It. Pg.15. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  5. ^ Zonyeé, Dominique (July 25, 2014). "DJ Jazzy Jeff Speaks on Winning Hip Hop's First Grammy". BET. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  6. ^ Stenning, Paul (24 November 2013). Success - By Those Who've Made It. Pg.14. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  7. ^ Alonso, Bogar (Jul 23, 2013). "Songs of Summer: DJ Jazzy Jeff On 'Summertime' & Why Will Smith Misses Rapping". Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Huver, Scott; Park, Michael Y. (July 1, 2008). "Will Smith & DJ Jazzy Jeff Reunite for Hancock Premiere". People Magazine. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  9. ^ Chester, Nick (July 27, 2009). "DJ Jazzy Jeff gets fresh with DJ Hero". Destructoid. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "Summertime". Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  11. ^ "Fresh Prince pals Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Carlton reunite on Graham Norton Show". Metro UK. 25 May 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  12. ^ DJ Jazzy Jeff (April 27, 2013). "Vinyl Destination". Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  13. ^ Stenning, Paul (24 November 2013). Success - By Those Who've Made It. Pages 13-22. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  14. ^ Brown, Eric Renner (October 7, 2015). "DJ Jazzy Jeff on possible reunion with Will Smith: 'The time is right on so many different levels'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  15. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff Reunite! How LL Cool J Got Them Back Together Onstage, retrieved 2018-06-15
  16. ^ Carter, Kevin L (9 April 1992). "Tuning in to music business: Professionals give some advice to students: Desire, dedication and determination". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. B2.

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