DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince - 1986 Mixtape (West Philly Rap):
I may be losing a little bit of my hard earned street cred with this statement, but I've always thought that DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were one of the most underrated groups in hip hop. Musically they may not have reached quite the same heights as other 80's emcee/dj duos like Eric B & Rakim or Gangstarr, but if you really take a minute to look back on their careers there's a lot to be impressed with. As corny as he was - and ignoring his early 90's attempt to reinvent himself as some sort of cross between Onyx and C&C Music Factory, or his late 90's attempt to be a family friendly answer to Bad Boy - Will Smith was a surprisingly gifted lyricist, equally adept at story telling and dropping clever, G-Rated, punchlines. As for Jazzy Jeff, the man became arguably the greatest Turntablist of all time (no disrespect to Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike, or whoever else you may think deserves that title), and managed to incorporate some really technical record scratching into what were otherwise very pop rap albums. And together, they managed to drop the greatest summer hip hop anthem of all time, release an iconic rap video, and become millionaires twice during their music careers.
Having said all of that, I was unabashedly excited when someone on Facebook sent me a link to an early mixtape from Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Based on the instrumentals they're using, the tape seems to be from around 1986 which was right around the time Paul Oakenfold helped get them a record deal on the strength of Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble. The highlight of the tape comes around the 17:00 mark, when Jazzy Jeff starts scratching up L.L. Cool J's Rock The Bells (a track that is the dj equivalent of a guitarist playing Stairway to Heaven to show off his skills) with Will Smith serving as the hypeman. It's worth pointing out to the dj nerds in the audience that this is one of the first recorded instances of the transformer scratch (though whether or not Jazzy Jeff invented it is still up for debate).
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