Jazzy Jeff is back in Dubai - here he reflects on his life and times
What’s On and Hype hear from DJ Jazzy Jeff as he prepares to play Cirque Le Soir, Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road. Will Smith’s best mate is back in town.
DJ Jazzy Jeff is often hailed as one of the best turntabalists of all time. At the top of his game for 25 years, here’s an insight into the man in his own words.
“As much as I am hip hop, I’m soul. As much as I am soul, I’m a turntablist. As much as I’m a DJ, I love jazz and rock.”
“I was probably around 15 or 16 when I became Jazzy Jeff. There was a guy who just started calling me it and it just stuck. Everybody had a tag in front of their name, and I guess because mine began with a J… It wasn’t Jam Master Jeff, so it was Jazzy.”
“I play stuff that people know, some stuff people don’t know, and give people curveballs. The curveballs are really important. They’re the super duper unexpected songs. At the end of the night people never talk about the most popular song, they talk about the ‘I can’t believe he played that’ song.”
“It feels very special to have a song that surpasses time. Every year I think no-one’s going to be paying attention [to Summertime], and it comes back. Every year. Which makes me feel blessed and very happy. But, never in a million years did I expect this to be one of those songs that every time it gets warm, it comes back up.”
“When you look back, me and Will [Smith] weren’t thinking about whether they were going to play our songs on the radio or in the clubs. All we thought about was, ‘Wow, you rhyme, I DJ, let’s put together something that one day we can show people something and say we made a record.’”
“My music isn’t so much style, it’s just ‘Is it good or bad?’ because there’s bad EDM, there’s bad trap music, there’s a lot of bad hip hop, there’s almost no R&B. So it just kind of gets to a point that I don’t care what it is, I just don’t play a sucky record. It can be anything.”
“I have no shame. If you play something I think is great, I’m gonna tap you on the back and be like, ‘What’s that? Where’d you get that from?’ Because that’s what it’s about. It’s being educated and learning new music and just exposing people.”
“I wanted to be a DJ since I was ten years old. I remember going to block parties in Philadelphia and looking at this guy’s set up. He’s got speakers stacked almost to the roof and he’s got all these people in the middle of the street dancing. I was like, ‘He’s the captain of a ship. If he takes the record off, everybody stops dancing. That’s the coolest job in the world and I want to be him.’”
“I didn’t want to be an actor. We had no idea that [The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air] was going to be as big as it became, and I had little old women coming up and saying, ‘We love when you get thrown out of the house.’ They had no idea I did any kind of music.”
“My biggest issue is the fact that most big R&B superstars are doing dance music. Justin Timberlake came out with the most R&B album in seven years.”
“I was the youngest kid on the block and had to wait my turn at parties to DJ. During the night the others would need to go to the toilet and would ask me to stand in for five minutes. Eventually, someone asked me to play at one of his parties the whole night after seeing the tunes I selected.”
Cirque Le Soir, Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road. Monday April 21, 10pm to 3am, free. Metro: World Trade Centre. cirquelesoir.com/dubai