DJ Jazzy Jeff Calls Will Smith One Of Rap’s Greatest Storytellers. Do You Agree?
Slick Rick, Dana Dane, Rakim, Ghostface Killah, Ice Cube, Andre 3000, Nas, Kendrick Lamar…Hip-Hop has its list of great storytellers. According to DJ Jazzy Jeff, any GOAT Storyteller list is severely suspect if it does not include Will Smith, perhaps forever known to Hip-Hop Heads as The Fresh Prince. In a recent interview with HipHopDX, the West Philadelphia DJ/producer, and founder of A Touch Of Jazz stressed the historically narrative merits of his longtime musical partner.
“When you talk about the level of storytelling—it’s funny because KRS-One made a statement about Will one time that he actually made me look at Will and say—’Shit, he’s absolutely right.’ KRS said that he felt that ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’ was one of the most incredible lyrical performances he heard on a record because he was like, ‘If you realize that the first verse might be 20 bars, that second verse could easily be 60 bars.’ That’s not easy to do. That’s not easy to do.”
“Parents Just Don’t Understand” was the second single from He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper, the 1988 sophomore album from the Philly tandem. Notably, the song would win the Grammy Award for “Best Rap Performance” one year later, beating out lyrical legends (and rivals) Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J, as well as Salt-n-Pepa and J.J. Fad. Famously, Jeff and Will would later boycott the Grammy Awards for not televising the particular award category.
Throughout the four-times-platinum, and twice-gold history of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Smith would deliver a plethora of story-driven singles, including “Nightmare On My Street,” breakthrough “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson,” and of course the theme to “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.” All songs feature a linear narrative from Smith.
Will Smith has not released an album since 2005 (Lost And Found), but in the past few months he has performed some of his and Jazzy Jeff’s classics on more than five talk and late night shows to spark what fans are calling the unofficial “Will Smith Nostalgia Tour.” Though a new album isn’t confirmed to be in the works for The Fresh Prince, he told Jimmy Kimmel during a pre-performance interview that he was considering getting back into music again.
In the full Q&A with DX, DJ Jazzy Jeff shares his insight on the changes he’s seen in the world of the DJs in the 30+ years he’s spent behind the turntables, His adventures with The Fresh Prince, and his hopes for the future of Hip-Hop’s next generation of artists. It’s an engaging conversation definitely worth a read.
Do Jazzy Jeff—and also Blastmasta KRS have a point that we all tend to miss? Do you think it is DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s PG-friendly image that prevents greater recognition, as compared to more explicit or raunchy MCs? Or is it, that TV-goers heard The Fresh Prince’s storytelling every week, which made it harder to recognize?
In Ambrosia For Heads’ “Finding The GOAT” bracket series, The Fresh Prince was eliminated by DMC in Round 1.