DJ Jazzy Jeff
BBE / Rapster
Whenever I want to be reaffirmed in my belief that life is not fair, I look to this man. while Jazzy’s former partner has made a massive fortune being innocuous, Jeff has been wallowing in relative obscurity. It was his beats that made the duo somewhat digestible despite the corny lyrics and imitative flows. Jazzy’s one of the best DJs out there (don’t believe me, check out his pyrotechnics on Nuyorican Soul), and real heads have been waiting for years for him to prove it. It has definitely been too long — but, in this case, better late than never.
Jazzy, along with Stetsasonic, pioneered the fusion of jazz and smoother R&B with hip hop beats that was later exploited to the fullest by A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Digable Planets, and Pete Rock (just to name a few). He still lives up to his chosen moniker, giving it to us rough and, yet, so smooth (check out his and J-Live’s fucking phenomenal “A Charmed Life”). With the help of Jill Scott, Raheim, J-Live, the resurrected Freddie Foxx, and a slew of others, The Magnificent delivers that odd combination to perfection.
With “Break It Down” (where he sets it off with a funky fresh Transformer scratch extravaganza) and “Mystery Men,” Jazzy shows he’s still one of the best hip-hop producers operating today. He can still craft a beat (though “For Da Love of Da Game” is a little too sappy) that gets the head to nodding. What is surprising is his R&B touch. While R&B and hip-hop mutated into one another years ago, Jazzy puts the soul back into the former. In “How Do I,” he put the clamp on the Boyz II Men usual histrionics and has Shawn Stockman singing a silky smooth groove. Admittedly, Raheim’s doing his best Marvin imitation in “My People,” but it’s still an extraordinary song and who can beat Dame Jill Scott in their send-up homage to Roy Ayers, “We Live in Philly?”
While this stellar disc definitely won’t put Jazzy on Access Hollywood with Big Willie, it gives hip-hop fans what we’ve been longing for: proof of what we’ve always suspected — that cool DJ Jazzy Jeff is a great man.