DJ Jazzy Jeff is one legendary disc jockey. He’s the mastermind behind arguably one of the best summer hits of all time, “Summertime”. After his break from the very popular 90’s TV show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Jazzy Jeff kept in the studio. Now, he travels the world, touring 160 days of the year, releasing mix tapes, and even stars in the popular YouTube series “Vinyl Destination”.
Recently, Jazzy Jeff caught up with New Times for an interview, and the icon talked about how he got started on “Vinyl destination”, his recent ventures and his view on Phife Dawg’s passing.
Here’s a brief recap of the interview from Jazzy Jeff and New Times:
New Times: How did the Vinyl Destination web series come about?
Jazzy Jeff: Just traveling, and one time I decided to take a friend of mine who’s a videographer, because I wanted him to document it and put it online. I didn’t really know what it was gonna do. After the first trip, he talked about how amazing that was for him and his life, being able to photograph and see all of the stuff he’d seen…
New Times: You’ve probably played a thousand DJ sets by now. Have you ever had any go off the rails?
Jazzy Jeff: We did an event in South Africa — we flew all the way to South Africa — it was supposed to be this huge, giant festival with all of these acts. I’m walking through the streets of South Africa and people are like, “Oh, my God. Jazzy Jeff, what are you doing here?” And I’m kind of like, “Oh man, we doing this festival.” “What festival?!” We couldn’t find one person that knew one thing about it, not one sign up, and we get to this place that’s supposed to hold 30,000 people, and there might’ve been less than a thousand people there. It was more people working there than in the crowd. I’m the type of person that that made me want to work harder. I wanted to make sure those thousand people had the show of their lives.
New Times: It’s been 25 years since “Summertime” was released. How do you feel about that song today?
Jazzy Jeff: As a musician, producer and singer/songwriter, you want a record that will stand the test of time. Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.” stands the test of time. Generation after generation, “You know O.P.P.?” and they’ll say, “Yeah, you know me.” You’re superduper-blessed to have any kind of art that stands the test of time. You have to understand how great it feels to have the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air passed through generations — that it’s still on television… You’re waiting for the summer to come that “Summertime” isn’t the song of the summer. It’s a huge blessing.
New Times: Would you like to share any thoughts on the passing of Phife Dawg?
Jazzy Jeff: Aw man, it crushed me. He was a really good dude. Between a Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Pharcyde, they were three of my top, favorite groups. It’s enlightening on so many levels when you have peers who start passing away. Guys like Sean Price, guys like Phife, it just brings stuff in your face, like how we didn’t always take the best care of ourselves…
If you want more from DJ Jazzy Jeff, watch his Boiler Room DJ set in London.