DJ Jazzy Jeff

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DJ Jazzy Jeff
DJ Jazzy Jeff in 2011
DJ Jazzy Jeff in 2011
Background information
Birth nameJeffrey Allen Townes[1]
Also known as
  • Jazz
  • Jazzy Jeff
Born (1965-01-22) January 22, 1965 (age 59)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • DJ
  • record producer
  • actor
Years active1985–present[2]
  • Rapster
  • Groovin'
  • BBE

Jeffrey Allen Townes (born January 22, 1965), known professionally as DJ Jazzy Jeff (or simply Jazz), is an American DJ, record producer and actor. He was one half of the hip hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, along with rapper-turned-actor and fellow Philadelphia native Will Smith.[3] He is credited, along with DJs Spinbad and Cash Money, with popularizing the transformer scratch.[4]

Early life and initial career[edit]

Townes was born on January 22, 1965, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[5] Raised in the area, Townes developed a reputation and a following as a local 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."[6]

He took the stage name DJ Jazzy Jeff. He 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 character named Jazz, Smith's best friend on the show. Jazzy Jeff was initially a recurring character in the first season, but became a regular shortly thereafter. 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 running joke throughout the show's run involved the character being physically ejected from the house by Uncle Phil (James Avery), most often using the same footage for comedic effect, but sometimes filming new footage instead. Jazz had an unrequited crush on Hillary Banks (played by Karyn Parsons).

DJ Jazzy Jeff in Hamburg, Germany, in 2002


One of the first records DJ Jazzy Jeff ever appeared on was with the Korner Boyz (Street Artz Records) and their songs "Bust the Move" and "The Saga of Roxanne", which featured legendary Philadelphia rappers MC Parry P and Grand Tone. The instrumental was called "Jazzy Jeff Scratch" (1985).

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".[7]

At the time of winning the Grammy Award, DJ Jazzy Jeff came home crying as he had just $500 in the bank.[8]

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince also won a second Grammy for "Summertime".[9]

After DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince broke up, Townes went on to become a prominent R&B, soul, and neo soul record producer and actor, 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, Raheem DeVaughn, Darius Rucker, Talib Kweli, Floetry, Rhymefest, and many more. Despite separating from Will Smith as a music partner, they remain close friends and occasionally work together.

Some songs by Smith were produced by Townes, 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.[10]

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.[11]

In 2010, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick (formerly known as Mick Boogie) teamed up to release the Summertime: The Mixtape series. The mixes are released every summer.[12]

In 2013, DJ Jazzy Jeff performed with Will Smith on The Graham Norton Show.[13] Also that same year, DJ Jazzy Jeff released Vinyl Destination,[14] 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.[15]

In 2015, he performed the scratch overdubs for the film Straight Outta Compton.[16]

In August 2017, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith performed two shows in Europe: MTV Summerblast Music Festival in Croatia and the Livewire Festival in Blackpool.[17]

Personal life[edit]

DJ Jazzy Jeff married Lynette C. Jackson in Jamaica on July 31, 2010.[18] He has four children: two sons from a previous relationship, journalist/DJ Cory Townes and actor/musician Amir Mitchell-Townes, and a son (Pleasant) and daughter (August) with Jackson.[19][20]


Solo work as DJ Jazzy Jeff[edit]

  • Unreleased album from Sony Records (1998)
  • One cut in Battle of DJs
  • The Magnificent (2002)
  • Soulheaven Presents Jazzy Jeff in the House (2004)
  • Hip-Hop Forever II (Rapster Records) (2004)
  • The Soul Mixtape (Groovin' Records USA) (2005)
  • Hip-Hop Forever III (BBE Records) (2006)
  • The Return of The Magnificent EP (2007)
  • The Return of the Magnificent (2007) #55 US (Gold)
  • The Return of Hip Hop EP (2007)
  • House of Tribes (T's Box) (2009)
  • My Faves Volume 1 (mixtape) (2009)
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff presents: Jeff's in the House Vol. 1 (mixtape) (2010)
  • What Happens in Vegas (mixtape) (2011)
  • LRG Life Colors (mixtape) (2012)
  • M3 (album) (2018)

As DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince[edit]


  • 1991: "Work It Out" with Monie Love from the soundtrack Boyz n the Hood
  • 1991: "Deep, Deep, Trouble" (with Bart Simpson) and the remixes from The Simpsons Sing the Blues
  • 1997: "Jazzy Jeff's Theme" (from the album Nuyorican Soul)
  • 1998: "When to Stand Up" (featuring Eminem)
  • 1998: "I Don't Know" – Slum Village (scratches; from the album Fantastic, Vol. 2)
  • 1999: "The Next Movement" – The Roots (scratches; from the album Things Fall Apart)
  • 2004: "Mirrorball (DJ Jazzy Jeff Full Sole Remix)" (by Everything but the Girl; from the album Adapt or Die: 10 Years of Remixes)
  • 2005: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone (DJ Jazzy Jeff & Pete Kuzma Solefull Mix)" (by the Temptations; from Motown Remixed)
  • 2005: Lost & Found (by Will Smith; produced the intro song "Here He Comes" and several DJ scratches on several tracks)
  • 2005: "Watch Me" – Little Brother (scratches; from the album The Minstrel Show)
  • 2006: "Feel It (Jazzy Jeff Soulful Remix)" (by The Black Eyed Peas; from Renegotiations: The Remixes)
  • 2006: "Night in Tunisia (DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix)" (by Duke Jordan)
  • 2006: "Foot in the Door" – Oddisee (mixed by DJ Jazzy Jeff)
  • 2007: "NY Weather Report" – Talib Kweli (scratches; from the album Eardrum)
  • 2007: "A Long Walk" – Jill Scott (made a cameo appearance in the music video)
  • 2008: "Get Busy" – The Roots (scratches; from the album Rising Down)
  • 2008: "Bring It Back" – Rhymefest (producer; from the album El Che)
  • 2009: "Prince in Training" – MaC Renegade (hosted by DJ Jazzy Jeff)
  • 2009: "Stay This Way (Jazzy Jeff Remix)" – by Peter Bjorn and John (featuring Big Pooh, Chaundon, and Phil Nash from the mixtape Re-Living Thing with Mick Boogie)
  • 2010: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 1 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2011: Back for More – DJ Jazzy Jeff & Ayah
  • 2011: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 2 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2011: "Shorti Bomb" – DJ Sat-One (with Chief Kamachi and DJ Jazzy Jeff)
  • 2011: "No Strings (DJ Jazzy Jeff Roller Boogie Remix)" – Mayer Hawthorne
  • 2012: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 3 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2012: "92 Til Infinity" – Mac Miller
  • 2012: "Girl of My Life" – Mint Condition (scratches; from the album Music @ the Speed of Life)
  • 2013: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 4 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2013: "Classic" – Shad (co-production with Skratch Bastid; from the EP The Spring Up)
  • 2013: "Red Hot Flo (From Kokomo) (DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix)" – from Boardwalk Empire
  • 2013: "Be Free (DJ Jazzy Jeff & James Poyser Remix" – Moonchild
  • 2014: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 5 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2014: "World is Our Playground (DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix)" – DJ Vice
  • 2014: "We Are One (DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix)" – Terry Hunter (featuring Jay Adams)
  • 2014: "Room Test" – Dayne Jordan (producer)
  • 2014: "All About the Art" – Dayne Jordan and James Poyser (producer)
  • 2014: "I Want It All" – Dayne Jordan (producer)
  • 2014: "Play Dat!" – DJ Jazzy Jeff featuring Dayne Jordan
  • 2014: "Lost" – Dayne Jordan (producer)
  • 2014: "Fellow" – Dayne Jordan (producer)
  • 2015: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 6 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2016: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 7 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2017: "Chasing Goosebumps" – The PLAYlist (executive producer)
  • 2017: Summertime: The Mixtape Vol. 8 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK
  • 2020: "Gotta Be Dope" R.A. The Rugged Man feat. A-F-R-O and DJ Jazzy Jeff


  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. ^ Steve Huey. "DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince". AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  3. ^ DJ Jazzy Jeff; Wilder, Chris (March 26, 2013). "DJ Jazzy Jeff on the 25th Anniversary of "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper"". Philadelphia Weekly. Archived from the original on August 31, 2013.
  4. ^ "The Art of Turntablism". PBS. DJs Spinbad, Cash Money and Jazzy Jeff transformed turntablism by inventing the 'Transformer scratch' – so named for the sound it created which echoed the popular 1980s cartoon. This technique of flicking the cross fader back and forth on the mixer whilst simultaneously scratching gave a greater tonal range and allowed DJs to experiment with the rhythmic qualities.
  5. ^ Kellman, Andy. "DJ Jazzy Jeff". Allmusic. Retrieved January 13, 2009.
  6. ^ Stenning, Paul (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. In Flight Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-62847-586-9.
  7. ^ Zonyeé, Dominique (July 25, 2014). "DJ Jazzy Jeff Speaks on Winning Hip Hop's First Grammy". BET. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Stenning, Paul (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. In Flight Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-62847-586-9.
  9. ^ Alonso, Bogar (July 23, 2013). "Songs of Summer: DJ Jazzy Jeff On 'Summertime' & Why Will Smith Misses Rapping". Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  10. ^ Huver, Scott; Park, Michael Y. (July 1, 2008). "Will Smith & DJ Jazzy Jeff Reunite for Hancock Premiere". People Magazine. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  11. ^ Chester, Nick (July 27, 2009). "DJ Jazzy Jeff gets fresh with DJ Hero". Destructoid. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  12. ^ "Summertime". Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  13. ^ "Fresh Prince pals Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Carlton reunite on Graham Norton Show". Metro UK. May 25, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  14. ^ DJ Jazzy Jeff (April 27, 2013). "Vinyl Destination". Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Stenning, Paul (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. In Flight Books. pp. 13–22. ISBN 978-1-62847-586-9.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff Reunite! How LL Cool J Got Them Back Together Onstage". Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  18. ^ "DJ Jazzy Jeff Speaks On Getting Hitched, Advice From Will Smith". Vibe. August 23, 2010.
  19. ^ Townes, Cory (July 22, 2016). "He's the (Famous) DJ, I'm the Son". EBONY.
  20. ^ Hunter, Chris (January 7, 2019). "Cory Townes Speaks on Journalism Inspirations, Landing His First Major Writing Gig, Being a Popular Figure for Today's Social Climate and more". Archived from the original on September 22, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.

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