Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith are in talks to reunite for a DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince reunion. They want to make music, and they want to tour. They’ve already been doing it informally. The Grammy-winning duo officially stopped making albums together in 1993, but now they want to rekindle the group that made Will Smith a mainstream star and made DJ Jazzy Jeff an underground legend.
While Will Smith was acting, Jazzy Jeff was producing and doing what he always specialized in: DJing. Jeff is the legendary inventor of the transformer scratch. For a taste of Jazzy Jeff’s talent, just look to this summer’s blockbuster hip hop movie Straight Outta Compton. Jeff provided the scratches you hear when a young Dr. Dre is DJing. To get the part, Jeff was contacted from multiple phone numbers by text message. He finally realized it wasn’t a prank, but only Dr. Dre trying to offer him the role.
Hitting the studio and the road together is something Jazzy Jeff had in mind for many years. But Will Smith was busy in his acting career and had a different mindset. The changing technology and the ease of recording in the current day finally caused Will Smith to want to formally get back together with Jazzy Jeff for more of that fun, happy-go-lucky music the two were famous for.
Jazzy Jeff told Entertainment Weekly how capable Will Smith is in making music at this stage.
“The thing about Will, from the day I met him, he is never lacking in ideas and content. It’s just the execution. I’m happy that he’s executing now. With the help of his kids — who are so into just doing it — he’s kinda like, ‘You know what? We can just do it.’ The possibilities are endless because we have these resources that we didn’t have 20 years ago.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince made five albums between 1987 and 1993. They’ve kept their friendship going for 30 years, though less publicly since the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended in 1996. That series featured Will, along with Jeff popping in from time to time. Jeff didn’t follow Will into the acting world, and instead opted for the independent music scene.
Jazzy Jeff further told Entertainment Weekly why Will Smith finally agreed to get back together.
“I think he’s really coming to grips that so much of it is independent and you can do it on your own. Coming from a record background and as long as we made records, that’s really hard for someone to understand that it’s different now. We always talk about going into these million dollar studios and making these records that we made. [But] having the ability to make a record in a hotel room, if we’d have had that, we would have probably did 50 albums!”
Will Smith continued to make solo albums that sometimes had Jeff in guest roles after the group split. As Billboard reports, he stopped releasing any music for more than 10 years until his recent, unexpected appearance on a remix track for “Fiesta” of Colombian electronic music group Bomba Estereo. His raps on the remix prompted the group to remake the music video, and helped popularize a track that had already been nominated for a Latin Grammy.
In 2013, Jazzy Jeff, Will Smith, son Jaden Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, and almost all veterans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had a very fun reunion on English TV. The three performed hit songs from back in the day, along with the “Carlton Dance,” for an international audience. The video clip has been viewed over 35 million times on YouTube.
Fans of Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff’s old records, and hip hop fans who tire of hip hop music with serious, gritty themes, have likely been craving the return of a group like DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince for a long time.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]