Jazzy Jeff

In the late '80s and early '90s, the smack-talkin', party-startin' Philadelphia duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince gave millions of young American suburbanites their first introduction to the joys of hip-hop. With multiplatinum-selling status and unforgettable songs such as "Girls Ain't Nothing but Trouble," "Parents Just Don't Understand" (which won the first rap Grammy), "Nightmare on My Street," and "Summertime" — plus the ubiquity of the TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — Jeff Townes and Will Smith were the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby-style musical-comedy duo for Generation X.

Though even kids today are likely aware of Smith's career trajectory as a Hollywood superstar, only close followers of hip-hop are likely to be hip to what Jazzy Jeff has been doing over the years. Turns out the guy has kept plenty busy. He has produced and lent scratches to records for a long list of artists including the Roots, Talib Kweli, and Rhymefest. He has released two all-original solo albums, one of which, 2007's The Return of the Magnificent, went gold. And he has built up a studio and production company in Philly called A Touch of Jazz, which has launched many artists' recording careers, including solo Will Smith and, more recently, Jill Scott.

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