30 Years Ago, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince Rocked The House Like No One Else (Video)
On April 7, 1987, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released their debut album, Rock The House. While certain elements of the album had been showcased by other artists in the past–storytelling (Run-D.M.C., Whodini), humor (Beastie Boys), beatboxing (The Fat Boys) and more–Jeff and his partner Will Smith were among the first to combine all of these qualities on one project. What’s more, the level of turntablism Jeff displayed on songs like “A Touch Of Jazz,” “Just Rockin’,” and “The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff”, had never previously been heard before on wax, and was a powerful reminder that Hip-Hop’s foundation started with the DJ.
Though Jeff arguably was unrivaled by other DJs in his ferocity on the wheels of steel, he met his MC match in the tour de force that was The Fresh Prince. From style and charisma, to wit and personality, Will had it all. Even before it was validated by shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and films like Men In Black, Independence Day, Bad Boys and Ali (to name just a few), Will’s theatrics, both on stage, and in their unforgettable music videos, showed that he was a bonafide superstar.
One of the most unique elements of Rock The House was Jeff and Will’s decision to incorporate the energy of their live performance on the album. In many ways, the album’s name was more a description than a title. On the title track, Jeff stepped aside while the Human Jukebox Ready Rock C takes over as Will’s musical accompaniment. Rock C is more than a human beatbox. He is literally a one man band with his ability to re-produce theme songs, scratches and other sound effects, all while holding down the beat. Along with Jeff’s turntable gymnastics, Will’s MC’ing and Ready Rock C’s super sonics, their live show was something to behold.
Fortunately, rare footage from that era is available of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince bringing Rock The House to life. In the first clip, Jeff, Will and Ready Rock C can be seen performing the routine for the title track. After an awesome display by Jeff on the wheels, Will and Rock C go to work. In a bonus, KRS-One is featured in the beginning of the clip.
Additional footage shows Jeff and The Fresh Prince performing “A Touch Of Jazz.”
In 2015, Jeff and Will set the Internet ablaze, when they announced they may be going on their first ever official tour and possibly recording new music together. Sadly, neither has materialized yet, but, if and when they do take their show on the road, they will undoubtedly still rock the house.