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DJ Jazzy Jeff

Rap and Hip-Hop

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About DJ Jazzy Jeff

DJ Jazzy Jeff on Tour

A pioneer whose crate-digging and beat-making skills remain unparalleled, West Philadelphia's DJ Jazzy Jeff has been one of hip-hop's most celebrated DJs for more than three decades. When Jeffrey Allen Townes was only 10 years old, he embarked on his DJ career, spinning records in his family's basement. His appreciation of the job of a DJ ran so deep, he'd use his time at neighborhood block parties to study how others worked:

In 1985, Jeff paired up with fellow Philadelphian Will Smith to form DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and together the two hit it big with crossover smashes in the 1980s and ‘90s. Earlier singles like "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Nightmare on My Street" cruised to the top with their combination of slapstick humor and boom-bap beats, with the former song winning the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989. The duo's 1991 jam "Summertime" took a more chilled-out approach, and it became a cookout staple and earned the pair their second Grammy.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince split up in the early ‘90s, although Townes has reunited with Smith for a handful of reunion shows and collaborations on record. He's also struck out on his own as an in-demand DJ and music mogul, helping nurture his hometown's fertile neo-soul scene and collaborating with fellow hip-hop titans like Big Daddy Kane and Method Man.

Jeff has also taken fans along with him on the road in the online video series Vinyl Destination, which follows him on his travels as he seeks out the best examples of culture around the world. His shrewd study of what makes an entertainer successful has paid off in a slew of ways — for him and for anyone attending his shows.