Posted by: DJ Ocean | May 14, 2010

My Inspirations: DJ Jazzy Jeff

Having grown up outside Philadelphia and been into hip hop almost all of my life it was literally impossible to not know who DJ Jazzy Jeff was because he and Will Smith had basically changed the game after coming out of nowhere to put Philly on the map.

The irony here is that although I was familiar with DJ Jazzy Jeff from the Fresh Prince material and I was a huge fan but I had no clue how his ridiculous skills as a DJ are and I definitely had no clue that he would go on to shape the rest of my musical life even though I had only met him once and our conversation consisted of me saying, “You are ridiculous” and him responding with his typical wit (as evidenced by his Twitter feed at @DJJazzyJeff215) “Thank you sir.” I was humbled to say the least.

My first up-close introduction to Jeff came at Space, a now defunct Philadelphia super-club that was fueled by sick beats and enough Exctasy to literally turn Philly into “The City of Brotherly Love.” When I first found out their was going to be a scratch-battle/competition, I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the concept as watching a bunch of local wannabes rip up the wax because I had been lucky enough to have spent the last couple of years hanging with some of the best DJs in the world.

Despite having hesitations, my decision to go to the event changed my musical landscape forever when I was pleasantly surprised when two of Philly’s (if not the world’s) best hip hop DJs took to the wax when Cash Money and Jeff spun back-to-back sets. At the time I was working for the online dance site, so I had front-row access and I was blown away by the way Jeff melted the decks and had the crowd rocking at every turn. I walked away from the night’s festivities with a new-found respect for Jeff and I quickly decided to make it a priority to watch him perform at other venues throughout the city.

Showing the perseverance and desire that DJs that have managed to make a career rocking the house through non-stop performing require, Jeff played Philly regularly so I got plenty of chances to see him do his thing. My second up-close experience with Jeff came at South Street’s legendary Fluid. If you don’t know why it’s legendary, think of a club that holds maybe 300 people max while having the world’s best DJs drop beats every night. Some of the local talent gracing Fluid’s decks included Josh Wink, King Britt and of course Jeff.

I will never forget the first time I saw Jeff spin at Fluid. I came in expecting hip hop and club set and left blown away by the fusion of R & B, tribal, house, disco, soul, hip hop and rap laid down by the man who continues to prove time and time again that he is hands-down one of the best DJs to have graced this planet. This was the night that I realized I could never be a DJ that spun just one style (like many other top DJs traveling the circuit) and I also came to the conclusion that any DJ who didn’t do what Jeff was doing were somewhat weak.

I’m not suggesting that other DJs can’t do the same thing he does from a technical standpoint, but there is natural flow to Jeff’s style that takes you on a musical trip typically inspired by the current city that is being captivated by his magic on the wax. It was something I had never seen a DJ do before and I’ve been lucky enough to see the elite face to face. Jeff crushed them likes grapes at a wine-making festival.

I knew from that point on that I would always aspire to be like my DJ hero. He was calm, cool, personable and level-headed every time I saw him perform throughout the city. Always respectful of the people that paid money to watch him do his thing, Jeff embodied (and continues to embody) the idea of what a DJ should be both professionally and personally. He loves his fans and treats them with respect and it shows when the crowd is at a fever pitch watching him cut back and forth on the “One’s and Two’s.”

Flash forward to Vegas for my third up-close interaction with Jeff, this times at a Vegas pool party. Annoyed and frustrated with local talent and their shitty song selections, I jumped at the chance to catch Jeff at the pool party. I have to admit his set was a little crazy and a departure from what I had seen him do back East, but it definitely worked with the Vegas fans and I was once again reminded how lucky I have been to literally stand five feet from Jeff a number of times and watch him do the things that I can only dream of. I always feel honored when I get to see the guy play that is the gold-standard in mixology. If they gave out awards for DJing, Jeff would have won the Nobel prize several times already.

My fourth and most current up-close session with Jeff came when he rocked Moon at the Palms. My wife and I were ten feet from him and I was quick to note that Kid Capri was in the house and watching his every move. Not only did Jeff drop his traditional style, he threw in mixes that had the crowd literally singing with every song. The energy was electric and the place exploded once he dropped into several mixes consisting of hip hop and old school disco. Although you might think this night couldn’t have gotten any better, things went insane when Capri joined Jeff on the wheels of steel going back-to-back. This night was the shit legends are made of. Once again, I left blown away at how one man could spread so much love in so little time while doing the thing he loved for a living.

Obviously, I’m a fan of DJ Jazzy Jeff and for good reason. If you think I’m just some crazy person who knows nothing about music, think again. DJ Jazzy Jeff is the “DJ’s DJ” and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. He has stood the test of time and he continues to show the youngsters how a DJ should live both when it comes to their work ethic and in fans relations.

If you have any doubts about what I have written above or you think I’m wrong, do yourself a favor and catch Jeff the next time he is in town. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Ironically, as I post this, Jeff is rocking Ditch Fridays at the Palms.


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