DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Magnificent
Original Release Date: August 13, 2002
For Da Love of Da Game
How I Do
Break it Down
Rock Wit U
Rock Wit U
- Da Ntro feat. Pauly Yamz & Baby Blak
- Shake It Off feat. Chef Word
- For Da Love of Da Game feat. Baby Blak & Pauly Yamz
- Break It Down feat. J-Live
- How I Do feat. Shawn Stockman & Cy Young
- Worldwide feat. Baby Blak & Pauly Yamz
- Musik Lounge feat. Oddisee
- Rock Wit U feat. Erro
- Travelz feat Baby Blak & Crushall
- Scram feat. Freddie Foxxx
- My Peoples feat. Raheem
- Know Ur Hood feat. Chef Word & Pauly Yamz
- Love Saviour feat. Flo Brown & Raheem
- Mystery Man feat. The Last Emperor
- We Are feat. Cy Young & Raheem
- Charmed Life feat. J-Live
- We Live In Philly feat. Jill Scott
DJ Jazzy Jeff's first solo album featured a variety of artists from A Touch of Jazz with music ranging from jazz, hip-hop, RnB to House, and of course featuring Jeff's trademark scratches.
Producer-driven albums can go both ways in
terms of overall quality but they almost always have good
beats. "The Magnificent" is not only a diverse album
featuring underground hip hop along with house music, R&B
and spoken word poetry, but it is his way to step out of the
shadow of Will Smith. Will Smith is nowhere to be found on
"The Magnificent" and to me, that's a plus. Jeff's
production company A Touch Of Jazz produces the whole album.
As every track is produced very well, the guest vocalists
not only add diversity to themes and styles but affect the
variety of quality.
Diversity is the key element to this album. The majority of
the tracks are hip hop songs with underground emcees and sung
hooks. The only somewhat well-known guests on this project
are Freddie Foxxx, Jill Scott, Last Emperor, Shawn Stockmen
(from Boyz II Men), and the incredible J-Live. A majority
of the guests are unknown underground artists like Pauly Yamz,
Baby Blak and Raheim. The hunger is evident and their styles
and lyrics do prevail on most songs.
Since it is a Jazzy Jeff record, do not expect
topics of gun-toting, weed smoking, or jewelry. The title
track featuring Pauly Yamz & Baby Blak is an ode to the
DJ. Using the same melodic loop from "Butta" by
A Tribe Called Quest. The track is basically a theme song
for Jeff. Of course, the turntable wizardry is impeccable!
Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak have 2 more songs together. The first
single "For The Love Of The Game" is a very radio-friendly
feel-good track with a sung hook that has some dope scratching
in the background. It's basically a song about the love for
hip hop that uses a very cool jazzy guitar sample. It's one
of the strongest cuts with the unknown emcees besides the
title track. Other themes include black pride, the love of
music, romance, Philadelphia, and stress.
The underground emcees make up a large part
of the album. "Shake It Off" featuring Chef is a
somewhat silly but very catchy tune. The two romantic tracks
use music to inspire and delight. "Rock With You"
featuring Eric Robertson and "Love Savior" featuring
Flo Brown and Rahiem are decent tracks that have strong romantic
themes. "Know Your Hood" featuring Pauly Yamz &
Chef uses a cool piano sample and paints a vivid picture of
ghetto lifestyles. The rhymes are hardcore and so is the half-sung/half-chanted
hook. "Musik Lounge" featuring Odyssey is a nice,
mellow track about the power of music and relaxation. It creates
a very chilled out atmosphere.
J-Live is the shining star emcee on the LP.
"A Charmed Life" is also on J-Live's album "All
Of The Above." It's an excellent auto-biographical track
which has upright bass lines, jazzy symbol rhythms and nice
jazzy vibed melodies. The true gem is "Break It Down."
J-Live is incredible on this track. Every verse demands your
attention as his energy and delivery is superb. The up-tempo
beat bounces along with a wise and somewhat cartoon-like melody
as Jeff adds some incredible scratching. It truly is the best
track on the LP.
Other more not-so-well-known (but well respected)
emcees stand out the most on the album. Freddie Foxx gives
a hungry performance on "Scram," and The Last Emperor
gives his usually great performance on "Mystery Man."
The R&B aspects drag the album down.
"My People" featuring Raheim is an interesting listen
since it deals with the power and strength that black people
have endured generation after generation. Other songs like
"We Are" featuring Cy Young and Raheim are filler
tracks. Even though they're produced well, they do not command
the attention like the other tracks.
There are a couple of odd but cool standout
tracks that add to the albums diversity. "We Live In
Philly" featuring Jill Scott is a remake of Roy Ayers'
"We Live In Brooklyn." Here, Jill Scott does a spoken
word (somewhat freestyled) dream sequence of famous and not-so
famous Philadelphia trademarks. Places and people are dropped
into the mix. Julius Irving, Miss Jackie, Steady B, Patty
LaBelle, Schooly D, and Allen Iverson are only a few of the
many names mentioned. How can you not like a song where Joe
Frazier pops out of a closet and kicks Rocky's ass? The beat
has cool handclaps in the rhythm along with funked out orchestra-melodies
and organs. If you are only familiar with Jill Scott's singing,
you may not even recognize her. It is an enjoyable song for
people who have lived in or visited Philadelphia. "In
Time" featuring V is a very inspirational and uplifting
deep house track. Here is where the singing truly works. The
singing and the music is very uplifting and so are the sentiments
of the song.
Overall, DJ Jazzy Jeff's album is a fun summertime
album. The production rules the LP. Every single song is produced
with intensity and a love for music. The rhythms are diverse
and complicated. While most tracks have that "Jazzy feel,"
the beats are hard enough to please hardcore hip hop lovers
but they are not rough. There is a glossy feel to the beats
which give this album a more commercial vibe. The underground
emcees do bring a lyrical credibility to the album in many
ways. There is not one bad beat on the album, Jeff's performances
on the turntables are incredible too. He is not only a great
producer but a turntable wizard. Unfortunately, an album is
not just production, scratching and beats. While the diversity
gives the LP a smooth flow, the abundant amount of singing
drags it down in some parts. Even though the singing is supposed
to give a balance to the hardcore emcees, it does not work
on some songs. One thing I love about this album is the love
and appreciation for the hip-hop DJ. If you like light but
intelligent hip hop with jazz-influences and some genre-exploring
songs, this is for you. As DJ Jazzy Jeff said, "This
is for people who love good music."
The Magnificent is the long awaited debut
solo album from legendary turntablist DJ Jazzy Jeff. Following
the outstanding single ‘For Da Love Of Da Game’
released last month ‘The Magnificent’ album is
bound to cause a sensation.
Featuring: Jill Scott, Shawn Stockman, Freddie
Foxxx, Baby Blak, Pauly Yamz, Erro, J-Live, Flo Brown, Chef
Word, Oddisee, Cy Young, Crushall, Soul 1, The Last Emperor,
Raheem, V, and ?uestlove
"Best volume yet in the Beat Generation
series so far…****" - Vibe
"The trademark ATOJ sound is there,
but instead of just being applied to R&B, it is also top-notch
underground Hip Hop" - The Source
"The fresh King is back" - Blues
Playlouder 3 and a half stars
Before No Limit, before Death Row, before
Rap-A-Lot there came Schoolly D, Roxanne Shante, Jazzy Jeff
and the Fresh Prince making Philadelphia the first scene outside
New York to gain a national US audience. Schoolly was the
proto-gangsta, Will Smith, hip-hop's first suburban icon and
Jazzy Jeff the improbably gifted DJ who quietly became one
of hip-hop's biggest-ever earners.
'The Magnificent' largely sidelines Jeff's
considerable turntablist skills preferring to showcase the
talents of his A Touch Of Jazz production company. The influence
of Philly soul seeps into 'Rock Wit U' and 'How I Do' and
while Will Smith don't gotta cuss in his raps you try telling
Freddie Foxxx to tone it down - he'll straight rag on your
sorry ass like he does with the phoney gangstas on 'Scram'.
And if you're a sucker for acoustic bass and the swish of
the drum brush you'll totally dig the jazz motif on 'A Charmed
Life' featuring J-Live eccentrically claiming "I learned
patience from making models in the basement". That's
Jill Scott eases into spoken-word territory
taking Roy Ayers' 'We Live In Brooklyn' and relocating it
in downtown Philly where she has Joe Frazier kicking Rocky's
ass. It's that kind of kooky, offbeat vibe that prevails.
This is the scratch king's redefinition of summer madness.
all music.com 4 stars out of five
It's easy to consider DJ Jazzy Jeff
an old-school head, by simple virtue of his not being very
active in the rap mainstream during the past ten years —
unlike the former Fresh Prince. Granted his first solo shot
by BBE (the British beat ambassadors responsible for great
hip-hop mixes by Pete Rock and Kenny Dope, among others),
Jeff keeps it hometown, inviting a wealth of Philly names,
including Shawn Stockman (from Boyz II Men), Jill Scott, and,
for four tracks, Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak. And just like some
of his classic hits with Will Smith, The Magnificent comes
very correct, with beatbox breaks; jazzy guitar and keys;
lots of vocal harmonies on the choruses; and the sub-frequency,
almost percussive bass lines often heard on later A Tribe
Called Quest LPs. For the most part, Jeff keeps to the background
— every track here has a featured vocalist — though
Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak sing his praises on the title-track
opener, and J-Live gives him plenty of room for scratching
on the spectacular "Break It Down." It's hard to
say how long DJ Jazzy Jeff took making these tracks, though
The Magnificent has an incredible range; Jeff does it all
well, even when moving from soulful R&B ("Rock Wit
U" with Eric Roberson) to basement hip-hop on the very
next track ("Scram" with Freddie Foxxx). Those who
can make it to the end — admittedly, 17 tracks are a
lot to deal with — get treated to a fun Roy Ayers redo,
"We Live in Philly," with Jill Scott playfully stretching
out on a dream-time vocal performance that references plenty
of Philadelphia landmarks, along with a range of Philly celebrities:
Dr. J, Pooh Richardson, Maurice Cheeks, Schooly D., Frankie
Beverly, and Patti LaBelle among others. — John Bush
The record tracks an arc from the kind of hip-hop that will
go down well at Fat Beats -- intellectual rather than clubby,
with MCs like J-Live and Last Emperor -- to soul, with a touch
of the jazzy house that all soul DJs seem to have a secret
passion for. In particular, there's a remake of Roy Ayers'
"We Live in Brooklyn, Baby," voiced by Jill Scott
and of course called "We Live in Philly." Ishmail
Reviewed by Raymond Fiore
Jeff Townes' legacy might have been a footnote in Will Smith's
hip-hop history were it not for A Touch of Jazz, his production
house, which resurrected Philly soul with Jill Scott and Musiq.
On his Quincy Jones-ish debut, featuring star turns by rapper
J-Live and crooner Raheem, Jeff forsakes innovation for another
nourishing meal of rim shot and Rhodes. These sublimely fluid
grooves have heart, and musically speaking, that's more than
you can say for Big Willie.
Freddie Foxxx). Those who can make it to
the end — admittedly, 17 tracks are a lot to deal with
— get treated to a fun Roy Ayers redo, "We Live
in Philly," with Jill Scott playfully stretching out
on a dream-time vocal performance that references plenty of
Philadelphia landmarks, along with a range of Philly celebrities:
Dr. J, Pooh Richardson, Maurice Cheeks, Schooly D., Frankie
Beverly, and Patti LaBelle among others. — John Bush
DJ Jazzy Jeff "The Magnificent"
- BBE / Beat Generation @@@@
East Coast; Producer Compilation; Progressive
By now most of you would have been aware
of The Beat Generation Series, with already released albums
by producers such as Pete Rock (Petestrumentals), Jay Dee
(Welcome 2 Detroit), Marley Marl (Re-Entry), Will.I.Am (Lost
Change) and others. Up next, DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Philly-bred
turntablist and producer that the world has grown to more
associate with Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith from
back in the day. Seldom ever seen, Jazzy Jeff and his production
team, A Touch of Jazz handle this LP with their vibrant Philly-Soul
throughout. The amalgamation of mostly hip hop, touches of
R&B, spoken-word poetry and even a deep house track, "In
Time" featuring V at the album's closing, unquestionably
all make this an urban masterpiece. America's present hotbed
of urban finesse is Philadelphia if you hadn't witnessed,
and as Jazzy Jeff ropes in Jill Scott, ?uestlove, The Last
Emperor, Shawn Stockman (from Boyz II Men), J-Live, Freddie
Foxx and a host of really talented locals from his camp, the
evidence from this homegrown LP is of pure excellence.
There's too many excellent cuts here - approximately ALL -
to magnify with my pen. Forget about looking at Jazzy Jeff
or pre-judging this album slightly. It kicks off with a familiar
jazzy, East Coast melody (the same one A Tribe Called Quest
used on "Butter") in the title track (“ The
Magnificent”) featuring rappers Pauly Yamz & Baby
Blak who in their lyrics, big up Jeff's long-lasting career.
Jeff's scratching snippets offer vinyl cuts of Fresh Prince,
Biz Markie and Special Ed classics which all collide in unison,
introducing you to a post-summer, street-savvy soundtrack
of quality productions and fresh undiscovered talent. Take
for instance the lead single, " For Da Love Of Da Game",
again by Pauly Yamz & Baby Blak who ride and tear this
smooth soul fusion of addictive guitar licks and Rhodes keys.
It simply melts into your ears with pure, sweet easiness.
Many of these tracks tend to invoke the 'butter-smooth' factor
into its recipe. For instance, even when " Worldwide"
pushes a Pete Rock-type production style, Jeff leaves the
chorus wide open for a hook with some seductive soul singing.
More and more smoothness is thrown at your dome when Shawn
Stockton of Boyz II Men is glad to demonstrate his singing
power on "How I Do." When newcomer Raheim grabs
a hold of the mic with his time-sensitive lyrics on "My
People," the floating atmosphere he creates is ascension
to heaven. This dreamy, mid-tempo groove seems destined to
be an anthem for the oppressed from city to city: "MY
PEOPLE was made to endure, MY PEOPLE'S all shapes and colors,
MY PEOPLE'S got more people with them, that's more people
- more sisters and brothers/MY PEOPLE stay strong as an OX,
MY PEOPLE will never fail, MY PEOPLE will always remain, remain
with a story to tell!"
As for spit-kicking lyrical emcees,
it's J-Live's two tracks, " Break It Down" over
the deadliest hip hop underground production here that takes
you on a journey beyond the shine or floss of typical rap
rotation. On his undeniably soothing next track, " A
Charmed Life", we see this LP standing up to test anymore
crazy enough to step into this ring. It's a shame that two
excellent cuts as this only stand a chance of being heard,
providing you are aware of this album. What's up with radio
these days? Even when one wants to take a break from the head-nodding
power of other quite danceable party starters such as "
Musik Lounge" featuring Odyssey and "Rock with U"
featuring Eric Roberson, there's still more to offer you relaxation.
Chill out to the imaginative and pictorial memorabilia of
Philadelphia's black history that is painted through the spoken-word
poetry of Jill Scott on " We Live In Philly", and
allow yourself to be drawn into a city that has always been
rich in black culture. - Marlon Regis
DJ JAZZY JEFF
The Magnificent ( BBE )
While Will Smith has gone on to Hollywood,
his old partner in scratch DJ Jazzy Jeff has left the acting
alone (save a couple of Fresh Prince episodes) and quietly
gone about business. He started up A Touch of Jazz production
company and scored a huge hit album for Jill Scott. Jeff comes
back to the forefront with a mix CD, The Magnificent, that
is the highlight of BBE's "Beat Generation" series.
It's everything you love about Jazzy's production--silky beats,
deft scratches and moody keys--narrated by some of hip-hop's
best up-and-coming talents. Guests include Jill Scott, Odyssey,
Freddie Fox, Raheem, Flo Brown, the Last Emperor, Baby Blak
and Pauly Yamz. His collaborations with rapper J-Live on "Break
It Down" and "A Charmed Life" are excellent
examples of hip-hop's planets and stars aligning. The dynamic
duo form a powerful backcourt. The only negative about The
Magnificent is there's no "Jazzy Jeff on the Wheels of
Steel" scratch track; it'd be nice to hear how his trademark
transformer scratch has aged over the years. Hopefully, Will
Smith will get off this Willennium trip and get back with
Jeff and conquer the world, just as they did back in the mid-'80s.
If not, cross your fingers for J-Live to fill in on a permanent
By Todd Inoue
Most people remember DJ Jazzy Jeff as one
half of the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and
while The Fresh Prince went on to become better known as alien-slayer
Will Smith, "Jazzy" Jeff Townes stuck with producing
music. His name started to surface in the mainstream again
last year as the producer behind Philadelphia vocal sensation
Jill Scott, whose soulful lyrical delivery benefited from
the amazing, vibrantly soulful and solid music that Townes
crafted for her. So it stands to reason that The Magnificent,
while not a surprise, sure as hell is pleasant.
For this BBE project, Jazzy Jeff has created a number of tracks
for a variety of vocal guests like Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak,
The Last Emperor and Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman. Jeff has
a plainly evident talent with jazz, funk and soul breaks and
can always find the deepest, funkiest and most powerful loops,
creating prime working conditions for lyrical masters like
J-Live. This Bedford-Stuyvesant English teacher and rapper
graces two tracks: "Charmed Life," which appears
on his own All of the Above album, and "Break it Down"
a stomping little ditty in which J-Live calls out all wack
MCs and Jazzy Jeff goes to work on the wax, slicing the record
like a Benihana chef. Jill Scott makes an appearance (sadly,
only one) on The Magnificent, joining Jeff in a hometown hype
song called "We Live in Philly," in which she kicks
spoken word about dreams over thick funk bass and string accompaniment
backed by organ and a slow rhythmic shuffle. This is destined
to be a (hopefully not-so) slept-on classic.
- Max Sidman
Jeffrey all Townes , better admits under
its alias DJ Jazzy Jeff , steps finally, nine years after
the last LP "code talks", with its partner wants
to Smith aka The Fresh Prince from the shade to the daylight.
Not the fact that it would have been dormant or would have
hidden itself. Jeff is not a center human being, as wants
one is. The DJ and producer rather pulls in the background
the threads and already created 1990 its own production company
"A Touch OF jazz".
After some productions, among other things
for Jill Scott , was it now at the time to step times again
separately into the footlights. The framework, which it selected
itself, fits thereby very well: Its first solo album "The
Magnificent" appears in the context of the Beat generation
series of BBE, in that already producer sizes such as Pete
skirt , wants I.AM , Jay DTE among other things. shone. covers
17 TRACKS the work, which have all one together: the Smoothness
of their producer. No matter whether hard RAP or singing,
productions of Jazzy Jeff proves as very harmonious, usually
reduced and never arduously - completely so, like the Erschaffer.
He found his own style long and tried on the album not forceful
to prove something or not fulfill categories, because it offers
the market perhaps straight in such a way. Thus no Potpourri
at different styles developed here, but a harmonious, well
working album, without large of star.
Jazzy Jeff got itself not, like it some its
colleagues to do to tend, the MCs most announced at present
in the studio, but geschart partly stood, partly still relatively
unknown artists around itself, who are momentarily not so
strong in the focus. Thus one could hear Love OF there there
on preceded the EP Pauly Yamz & baby Blak on the outstanding
piece of "For Game", one of the highlights of the
album. Pauly Jamz is not more frequently represented, e.g.
on "The Magnificent", "Know Your Hood"
or "Worldwide", it convinced however by any means
always. There the flow is, but do not come much to say except
empty phrases, which one is already sufficient to knows, unfortunately
more rueber. My opinion after too few to be the frequently
on the album represented. Freddie Fox points to "Scram"
that it is not still more despising a MC, that its style will
remain always faithful - ruff & raw, also to a Jazzy Jeff
instrument valley. Also another hopeful MC, which had so far
much pitch with its Labeldeals, " The load Emperor ",
is to be heard on a TRACK. Rather suitably here the title,
"Mystery is one". I hope that he will soon create
the break-through, it it would always have earned.
That j-Live can co-operate successfully with
Jeff, one already heard on its last album. "A Charmed
Life", so the title, is again represented also on "The
Magnificent". In addition, the outstanding new Song "BREAK
It down" shows the fact that chemistry between the two
is correct - who was still times wants Smith? Somewhat drop
does the album with most R&B numbers. They are likewise
well through-produced - the straight instrument valley of
"How I DO" is rather good -, but Shawn Stockman
of Boys II Men, Eric Robertson , Raheim or "V" cannot
really convince me. But but Jill Scott gives a successful
sample of its Spoken Word of talent on "incoming goods
Live in Philly". Otherwise I would have promised myself
a little more, what concerns the R&B part on the disk.
Thus my result precipitates as follows: Productions
of Jazzy Jeff please me continuous well to very actually well;
it is also in principle a good idea to offer and them place
give to less well-known artists a forum to prove itself. Unfortunately
however in it exactly also the weakness of the album lies.
Only some of them knows to convince really. One is however
clear: DJ Jazzy Jeff is, with or without the fresh prince,
still "The Magnificent" - today enriched with a
"Touch OF jazz"!
Dj Jazzy Jeff
Ever wonder what happened to Will Smith’s
former partner Dj Jazzy Jeff? You know, his flat top sidekick
Uncle Phil would always throw out the front door on The Fresh
Prince of Bel Air? Yea, I was disappointed as well that there
wasn’t a spinoff starring Jeff, but he decided not to
stay in the limelight of Hollywood, and instead return to
the underground of his hometown of Philadelphia, and get back
to what he does best: music.
In the past few years, Jazzy Jeff has been
making his presence felt in the hip hop/ soul music scene
of Philadelphia, by staying behind the scenes. He opened his
own studios named “a touch of jazz” studios, where
he has produced tracks for and worked with such up-and-coming
philly artists as Musiq, Bilal, Glenn Lewis, Jill Scott and
Jaguar Wright. But beyond producing tracks in his studio,
he has continued to remind people that the letters “D”
and “J” still belong at the front of his name,
by strutting his stuff at weekly DJ sessions in local philly
clubs. Somewhere along the way, Jeff was approached by the
London-based record label BBE to do the fifth album of their
“Beat Generation” series, which in the past
has included albums by legendary hip hop
producers Pete Rock, Jay Dee, and Will.i.am of the hip hop
group Black Eyed Peas. The Magnificent is that fifth album,
and Jeff is very greatful for the opportunity BBE gave to
him. “Making this record waz a breath of fresh air 4
me… being able to make a record with no limitation but
your creativity iz very rare n the major music industry 2day…
is all about business so we loose a lot of the true artists
we have,” Jeff says on the experience. The liberation
Jeff was given on the album, and his creativity certainly
show throughout the album. Like he said himself, maybe if
more of today’s top artists weren’t worried about
a hit single or the business aspect of music, more albums
would be like The Magnificent, in the sense that creativity
is the only limit.
After listening to The Magnificent, Jeff’s
limit of creativity seems endless. It’s obvious he set
out to make an album to represent philly, and it’s fusion
of sounds. The Magnificent is a hip hop album, but along with
the hiphop comes the rest of the Philadelphia experience:
the soul-crooner hooks and the touch of jazz. One of these
“fusion” songs, is “How I Do” a collaboration
between Jeff and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. The constant
hiphop beat is in the background, but layered on top of that
is jazz-styled bass and piano. All of this music serves as
a great backing to Stockman’s wavering voice on the
chorus, and new-comer MC Cy Young’s rap verses. The
use of new-coming mcs, such as Cy Young, is another element
that makes The Magnificent a great album. Rather than calling
up all of his high-profile celebrity friends, Jeff decided
to keep this album a philly affair (for the most part). Appearing
on five of the eighteen tracks are underground MCs Pauly Yamz
and Baby Blak. Both sound hungry and ready to break out for
the rest of the world to hear them. Another new name that
appears on much of the album is Raheem. He provides most of
the afore mentioned “soul crooning” on the hooks,
and sounds much like the other male philly soul singers like
Musiq and Bilal. One of Jeff’s other talents, aside
from finding fresh, new talent, is his amazing DJ skills.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t show them off nearly as much
as his anticipating fans wished he would, but they do have
one track where Jeff goes all out. On the track “Break
it Down,” a straight-forward rap song featuring rapper
J-Live, Jeff provides the cuts behind J, and throws in an
extra bonus at the end. He recruited such legendary DJs as
Qbert, Babu, Spinbad, and Xcel, and each take a turn showing
off their skills, making a great collaborative ending that
any aspiring DJ, or hiphop fan can marvel at.
The Magnificent is an overall solid album.
Jazzy Jeff took the opportunity to freely use his creativity
to the max, and made a great blend of an album, and a great
representation of what Philly is today. The fusion of hiphop,
rnb, soul, and jazz soaks through this record like a philly
cheesesteak through a paper plate. Will Smith’s one
time cohort is only at the beginning of a great solo career.
I really wanted this to be good, I really
wanted to like this but I just couldn’t. Remember back
in the day? Remember DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince in
Union Square? Well forget it all. It seems that guy has gone,
just as the Fresh Prince has, or should I say Will Smith.
Is no one safe these days from the commercial machine? Jazzy
Jeff’s cuts are box standard and nowhere near enough.
You would also think that Jeff would have all manners of names
all over the LP, but no, you get a bit of J-Live, Last Emperor
and Freddie Foxxx, after that its mostly unheard of Emcees
or, god forbid, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, I know, shocking
isn’t it! Break It Down featuring J-Live is the only
real good track on there with some good cuts, but nothing
that your average bedroom DeeJay in the UK couldn’t
do. I suppose if I was forced to chose another track I would
say Mystery Man featuring The Last Emperor is a good enough
track, but in no way makes the LP worth the money.
As a conclusion, when I first got my hands
on this to review it I was really looking forward to checking
it out. As a fan of Jeff back in the day there was no way
this wasn’t going to be good, oh how wrong can I be.
J-Live saves this LP on both A Charmed Life and Break It Down,
I would hate to think of The Magnificent without J-Live on
it as it doesn’t bear thinking about. If I were a big
fat rich lawyer I would grab Jazzy Jeff by the scruff of his
collar and kick the guy out of my house, and no wonder. The
Magnificent? I am sad to say, but I think not. I try to remember
people at their best, that way you have better memories, I
am going to therefore forget I ever heard this. Pity really.
Jazzy Jeff - The Magnificent (Motown / Universal)
As a DJ myself, what can I say about such
a legend? Well, I recently had the opportunity to see him
spin live, up close & personal and believe me…..He
is Magnificent! Believe the hype. Couple his skills on the
tables with his DJ ear for music, put him behind the boards
and add a supporting cast of hungry hometown Philly cats &
what you’ll have is the latest installment of BBE Record’s
Beat Generation series. DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Magnificent.
From start to finish, this album is pure
ear candy. Hip hop, R&B, Neo-soul, and even a house track.
Every last joint is hot, but the ones that stood out for me
most are the lead single “For Da Love of Da Game”
featuring the rhyme stylings of Baby Blak & Pauly Yamz,
“How I Do” featuring Shawn Stockman & Sy Young,
Break It Down” featuring J-Live over an ill Brady Bunch
sample, and the list goes on. Gotta mention “Rock Wit
U” featuring Erro which is a sweeeeet R&B track.
There really isn’t too much I can say
about this album except, GO GET IT!!! It’s just hot
in every sense of the word.
Lyrics - 3.5
Production - 5
TOTAL - 8.5
Talkin' All That Jazz
By Miles Marshall Lewis
DJ Jazzy Jeff
Don't snicker. You may be used to gigging
on DJ Jazzy Jeff as the ne'er-do-well character Jazz on "The
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," or deriding his hip-pop efforts
with Will Smith in the late 1980s/early '90s, but don't sleep.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince were one of the very
first multiplatinum rap groups. And more important than that,
Jeff himself revolutionized deejaying. Turntablists the world
over owe a debt to Jeff (as well as his Philadelphia brethren,
DJ Cash Money) for popularizing the "transforming"
scratch style invented by DJ Spinbad back in the day. And
where there's talent, there's room for reinvention.
Enter A Touch of Jazz, founded by "Jazzy
Jeff" Townes in the wake of Will Smith's Oscar-bound
exodus to Hollywood years back. ATOJ was responsible for the
bulk of production on Jill Scott's debut (though Jeff himself
contributed only one interlude, "Exclusively").
Now, fresh for 2002, Jeff drops an "I'm the DJ, they're
the rappers" compilation entitled The Magnificent, and
it's not half bad. Coming from a group who made their biggest
hit from the "I Dream of Jeannie" theme (lest you
forget), Jeff opts for a familiar trick, recycling some interlude
music from "The Brady Bunch" on the album highlight,
"Break It Down." J-Live blesses the track with holy-roller
fervor: "I'm the man of the hour 24 times a day/The man
of the day 365 out the year/That bulls*** you say, Live is
not tryin' to hear." The Magnificent's most accomplished
MC this side of J-Live is Freddie Foxxx, appearing on "Scram."
Unfortunately, the sing-songy hook runs counter to his hardcore
flow, weighing the song way down.
Jeff's tracks aren't hip-pop, but they're
often too smooved out for their own good: Lionel Hampton-like
vibes run through "A Charmed Life"; the chorus to
"Musik Lounge" is thickly multitracked ("Muzak
Lounge," anyone?). Local Philly talent like Pauly Yamz
& Baby Blak and singer Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men warm
up Jeff's tracks, but fail to bring things to a boil.
The second summit of the record - Jill Scott's
sexy, near Valley Girl-accented monologue on "We Live
in Philly" - saves the day, and The Magnificent concludes
with the uptempo house-music (!) groove of "In Time."
It could have been better, it could have been worse, but at
least DJ Jazzy Jeff won't be bothering his gone-Hollywood
homeboy for a reunion record anytime soon
metascore 71 - generally favorable reviews
DJ Jazzy Jeff
You know him from his days supplying the beats to the Fresh
Prince, but DJ Jazzy Jeff has finally stepped into the spotlight
with this solo debut. Vocals are supplied by a variety of
guests, including Jill Scott, Raheim, ?uestlove and J-Live.
All scores given by critics have been converted
to a 10-point scale. When a critic does not provide a score
in his/her review, we have assigned one based on the general
impression given by the review.
Like the best mixtape, The Magnificent glides from songs that
are destined to be underground classics, party tracks, songs
to get our swerve on to, and the straight head nodders.
Recalls the early '90s work of A Tribe Called Quest. [Sep
8 The Onion (AV Club)
DJ Jazzy Jeff still makes music that matters, which can't
be said of his former partner.
8 All Music Guide
The Magnificent has an incredible range; Jeff does it all
well, even when moving from soulful R&B ("Rock Wit
U" with Eric Roberson) to basement hip-hop on the very
next track ("Scram" with Freddie Foxxx).
8 Entertainment Weekly
These sublimely fluid grooves have heart. [16 Aug 2002, p.72]
The album straddles old-school R&B, hip-hop, adeep house
and anything else that illuminates Jeff's mad production skills.
[Aug 2002, p.79]
'The Magnificent' largely sidelines Jeff's considerable turntablist
skills preferring to showcase the talents of his A Touch Of
Jazz production company.
5 Dot Music
It's just hard to find much of Jeff himself in these amiable,
head-nod-friendly, immaculately crafted but ever so slightly
The album's fine pedigree might have worked in a more conservative
era. [#9, p.144]
August 26, 2002
Jazzy Jeff's first solo album, The Magnificent,
is the fifth installment in London-based BBE Recordings' Beat
Generation series -- a producer-driven project that honors
some of hip-hop's most superb beat catalysts. A Chex-mix of
jazz, soul, and funk, the album honors one of Philadelphia's
best-known DJs with a seasoning of native Philly MCs (Flo
Brown, Pauly Yamz, Baby Blak, Last Emperor) and vocalists
(Raheim and Jill Scott).
What's particularly impressive about Magnificent, in addition
to the lush, intimate production, is that the MCs' deal with
a variety of subject matter in ways opposed to being banal
-- avoiding overused hip-hop clichés. Flo Brown teaches
that love "makes you walk the air/ crawl on stairs and
call on prayers" on "Love Saviour," while Pauly
Yamz hips a materialistic that "there's more to life
than a Polo sweater." J-Live is brilliant on "A
Charmed Life" -- getting autobiographical over a straight
jazz track of piano, acoustic bass, and a drum brush. Then
Jill's spoken word "We Live in Philly" is a Philacentric
shout to local genius (athletes, artists, etc) over the string
sample from Roy Ayers' classic "We Live in Brooklyn.
The album's only missteps are "How I
Do" and "Rock Wit U," where the benign songwriting
and vocal techniques of Shawn Stockman and Eric Robinson make
them sound like disposable, microwave-able R&B fodder.
Critics will find that Jeff's skills as DJ and producer are
subdued in place of showcasing his partners at the Touch of
Jazz production firm. Still this solo excursion is a future
classic and one of the best of the Beat Generation series
CDNOW Contributing Writer
DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Magnificent (BBE/Creative
rating: 4 (jazzy/hiphop/soul)
Since going their separate ways in the mid-nineties,
the careers of Jazzy Jeff and his long time partner The Fresh
Prince Will Smith could not have been more divergent. While
Smith became a Hollywood rap star releasing album after album
of sonic turds, Jazzy Jeff Townes went underground, back to
his native Philadelphia and established his A Touch Of Jazz
studio and label, working with credible artists such as Jill
Scott and Masters At Work, getting in on the ground floor
of the nascent neo-soul scene centered around Philly. Townes
now gets the chance to showcase his current sound from London
label BBE through their acclaimed Beat Generation series and
he doesn’t disappoint, cramming many of the rich cultural
influences of his city including soul, jazz, hip-hop, poetry
and even house into a superb collection of well-crafted tracks.
Living up to his name, jazz is the overriding
influence throughout most of the hip-hop tracks here, the
very antithesis of the pop fluff and thuggish melodramatics
found further north in New York. Jeff provides lots of room
for up and coming Philly rhymesters such as Baby Blak and
Pauly Yamz to shine on smooth, classy, highly instrumental
tracks although it is the more established MC’s who
tend to steal the limelight. Rawkus wordsmith The Last Emperor
brings a grimy street-authority; the angriest man in hip-hop
Freddie Foxxx conjures up a hardcore moment that takes a leaf
out of Pharoahe Monchs’ book of catchy hooks; Cy Young
marks himself as definitely one to watch while J-Live cements
his place as one of the best around with the complexly rocking
Break It Down and the superb, autobiographical A Charmed Life.
It ain’t just hip-hop though as Raheim does a superb
Whats Goin’ On Marvin Gaye-like performance on My People,
Jill Scott flips Roys Ayres’ We Live in Brooklyn Baby
with some seriously sassy, bugged-out spoken word and the
shockingly good New Jersey-style soulful house workout of
In Time featuring V is a wonderful surprise in closing. If
there was any justice in this world.....
Posted on Sun, Aug.
Review | The master of the scratch
By Tom Moon
Inquirer Music Critic
Once a defining sound of hip-hop, DJ scratching
has lately become just another sonic bauble, an obligatory
presence so bland it barely cuts through the lavish and often
DJ Jazzy Jeff's imaginative, stylistically
diverse The Magnificent (Rapster/BBE ***1/2) argues that though
the DJ is often in the background, there's still an art to
the scratch. And, more significant, its 17 tracks prove that
despite hip-hop's current commercial bent, there's still room
for innovations - small refinements and flying leaps, outbreaks
in which the raps are eclipsed by crazy hiccuping turntable
Right from the opening track, it's clear
this isn't your typical pyrotechnic watch-me-DJ display: Jeff
Townes lurks as rappers Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak roll through
his biography, interjecting playful, quipping asides over
a Weather Report sample. The turntables move in after the
second verse, as Jeff sets up a stereo call-and-response exchange
that begins in the left channel and finishes in the right.
His phrases dart between vinyl-scraping squiggles and dramatic
syncopations that embody the spirit and technical agility
of bebop improvisation.
From there, The Magnificent touches on all
kinds of music: There are tart old-school taunts ("Scram,"
featuring veteran MC Freddie Foxxx); slithering jazz-guitar
grooves ("Shake It Off"); gorgeously harmonized
neo-soul reveries ("Rock Wit U," featuring Touch
of Jazz producer Eric Roberson); and moments of stylistic
fusion that defy categorization (the swinging, vibraphone-laced
"A Charmed Life," a showcase for Brooklyn rapper
Rather than lowball the marketplace or simply
show off his wizardry, Jeff chose instead to dive into anexploration
of wild hip-hop possibilities. With his Touch of Jazz crew,
he created an environment where
anything could happen, and from that sprang J-Live's riveting
hip-hop/swing autobiography, Jill Scott's delirious spoken-word
reverie "We Live in Philly," and a bunch of tunes
that could only have grown out ofthe dedication expressed
in the album's first single:
"You ain't doing this for watches and chains... you got
the love of the game."
Best known as Will Smith’s sidekick
in DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and the Fresh Prince
of Bel Air TV series, hip-hop production force Jazzy Jeff
has been working on developing new artists through his production
company, A Touch of Jazz (Jill Scott, etc.), since day one.
On this installment of BBE’s Beat Generation series,
Jeff puts his own production skills on center stage. The Magnificent
displays the same jazz-inflected rhythms that infused Scott’s
debut. Featured are veteran MCs like J-Live, Freddie Foxxx
and vocalists such as Jill Scott and Shawn Stockman (Boyz
II Men). Raheim and Cy Young offer messages on “We Are”
and “My People.” J-Live lends underground cred
to “Break It Down” and “A Charmed Life.”
Magnificent may be overstating the case, but Jeff’s
production chops narrow the gap
between fantasy and reality. (Lucy Beer)
I must admit, everytime I saw those old episodes
of Fresh Prince where Jazzy Jeff made his little appearances,
I wondered what we was up to nowadays. I wondered if he was
jealous of Will’s fame, or went off to pursue something
else. Perhaps I just wasn’t very well connected but
I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that wondered
the same. Well, everything was brought to light this month!
BBE Records and Rapster are releasing the debut full-length
“The Magnificent” from DJ Jazzy Jeff in August.
Apparently, if you didn’t have a clue like I didn’t,
Jeff stared A Touch of Jazz, which is a large musical production
facility with a number of producers and have been more then
busy writing TV theme songs, producing Will Smith’s
solo albums, and working with artists like MC Lyte, Kenny
Latimore, Michael Jackson, and um.....Darius Rucker of um....Hootie
and the Blowfish. Yes, while I’m sure this sounds like
a great biz venture, it does make you wonder what on earth
this album is going to sound like. I don’t like Hootie,
most TV themes, Willenium or whatever, and especially not
Michael J’s new material!! Never fear, the album, it
actually pretty damn good and reminds me of the golden 93’
era. The production isn’t ground-breaking but wicked
regardless and my god, the guest line-up is simply amazing.
Everyone from Jill Scott, ?uestlove, J-Live, Freddie Foxx,
Raheim, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, Pauly Yamz, Baby Blak,
and plenty more. The finest element is Jazzy Jeff pulling
together a lot of urban styles aside from hip-hop like soul,
r’n’b, spoken word and deep house! Jazzy Jeff
should of done this a long time ago but it does sound like
he’s been a bit busy.
Artist: DJ JAZZY JEFF
Title: THE MAGNIFICENT
Label: BBE Records/ Rapster Records
Link http://www.djjazzyjeff.com/ , www.bbemusic.com and www.rapsterrecords.com
Root: US/ Hip Hop
Philly's DJ Jazzy Jeff needs no introduction. After more than
10 million albums sold and 3 Grammy's with Will "The
Fresh Prince" Smith, countless TV appearances on "the
Fresh Prince of Bel Air", it is surprising that an action
figure hasn't yet been made in his image. Action is what you
get plenty of on the Magnificent, the next release in the
Beat Generation series, dedicated to put the emphasis on the
hip hop DJ-producer, and also DJ Jazzy Jeff first solo album,
for which he enlisted MCs, singers and spoken word artist
like Jill Scott, Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men, J-Live,
?uestlove from the Roots, as well as many artist from his
famed production company A Touch Of Jazz (who recently produced
Michael Jackson's "Butterfly"). The production style
is made of classic chilled jazzy breaks, R&B grooves,
and occasionally wanders off into roughneck territories, covering
a wider urban spectrum. But the shocker comes last with "In
Time" featuring the soulful vocals of V, a collaboration
with Masters At Work delivering 6 minutes of pure deep house
bliss, certain to raise some eyebrows, but ultimately will
see everybody happily getting down.
Coming off his wildly successful EP, this
has been one of the most highly anticipated full-length releases
of the summer and it does not disappoint. Jeff pulls off the
trick of creating a very balanced album with a diverse group
of guest vocalists (ranging from J-Live to Jill Scott to Freddie
Foxx to one of the dudes from Boyz II Men) by creating the
track around each guest's style, but always keeping it close
to his "Touch Of Jazz" mode. Standout tracks include
"The Magnificent(1)" and "For Da Love Of Da
Game(2)" with Pauly Yamz & Baby Black, "Break
It Down(3)" and "Charmed Life(4)" with J-Live,
and "Musik Lounge(5)" with Odyssey. About half the
songs feature singers only, and while this may not be for
the hardknocks, they work well when you're in the mood . Could
be the best in the BBE Beat Generation series so far. 17 tracks
All it takes is a good mixtape to put
you in the right mood.
Having The Magnificent by DJ Jazzy Jeff sitting on my desk
has caused a pavlovian response by everyone in my office:
"That's not the DJ Jazzy Jeff? Is it?" As soon as
I satiate their curiosity my coworkers all seem to get a warm
smile as if they've been transported back to a happier place
for a moment. The smile is then followed with "I didn't
know he was still around."
As one half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Jazzy helped
launch rap into mainstream radio. Their Grammy-winning track
"Parents Just Don't Understand" was irresistible
radio fodder and the Fresh Prince's charisma helped them take
over MTV. The follow up single "Summertime" proved
that they weren't just rhyming about kid stuff and became
their first number one single. Their subsequent records failed
to generate sales and the Fresh Prince was off to Bel Air
with Jeff riding shotgun. Will Smith was able to parlay his
ability into a movie career, while Jeff seemingly disappeared.
To most it seemed as if one of the most successful DJs/producers
had gone awol, destined for one of those Where Are They Now?
specials on VH1. Thing is Jeff has been making beats and tracks
all along. Using the money he made off of his early success,
he started his production company A Touch of Jazz in 1990.
A Touch of Jazz went on to become one of the most revered
companies in the music industry, producing hit tracks by everyone
from Will Smith to Dave Hollister to Jill Scott.
Jazz's fall wasn't just from the public eye. Despite his impeccable
resume, he's not the kind of producer spoken about with reverence
by the hip-hop community. While people can't utter Marley
Marl or Pete Rock's names without drooling, you almost never
here anyone mention Jeff. Well, it's time to give DJ Jazzy
Jeff the respect he deserves. The UK's Barely Breaking Even
Records has brought us their latest installment of the Beat
Generation series, this time starring DJ Jazzy Jeff in his
first leading role. Beat Generation is a Christmas present
for those who understand that the best hip-hop songs are built
from the back to the front. With all due respect to Guru,
it's often the beat more than the voice that propels the tracks
we nod our heads to 10 years later.
The Magnificent has Jazzy Jeff coming out the gate with both
barrels firing. The title track gets things started with upcoming
MCs Pauly Yanz and Baby Blak trading verses over a smooth
piano and bass joint that sets the tone for the rest of the
album. While A Tribe Called Quest frequently receives all
the credit for marrying jazz and rap, Jazzy Jeff is the man
who invented the style. Even on his earliest, most playful
tracks with the Fresh Prince, it was Jazzy Jeff displayed
a proficiency for jazz and soul arrangements that could turn
even the silliest cut into a head nodder. Ten years later
nothing has changed.
"Shake It Off", the second cut, is a track we've
been waiting De La Soul to release for the past five years.
Over a bouncing bass line, Chef rhymes about using the dancefloor
and music, as opposed to guns and violence, as a way to relieve
stress. While the track will not satiate the blood-thirsty
appetite of some of today's hip-hop fans, it's a welcome trip
back to a world where knowledge truly reigned supreme over
nearly everybody. J-Live steps up to the mic on "Break
It Down" and displays why he is one of the most underrated
MCs in the business. Giving a lesson to wanna-be-rappers,
J-Live points out that a true MC can rhyme about anything
and that, if you can't, you should stick to admiring those
who can from a distance. J-Live reappears towards the end
of the album on "A Charmed Life", a refreshing track
on which he rhymes about being blessed because he gets to
teach children by day and MC by night. On "Scram"
Freddie Foxx serves notice to all hoods that they should stay
clear of his path if all they can bring to the table is talk
about how hard they are.
Bringing back another blast from the past, Boyz II Men crooner
Shawn Stockman proves he's still got pipes on "How I
Do". Jazzy's skills are not limited to hip-hop, as the
album mixes in the occasional soul and R&B number. "My
People" featuring Raheem is a beautiful number reminiscent
of some of the best '70s soul available. Saving the best for
last, on "We Live in Philly" he flips the Roy Ayers
classic "We Live in Brooklyn," and with the help
of Jill Scott turns it into the ultimate tribute to the City
of Brotherly Love.
All of the best producers bring their own unique touch to
what they do. You know a Pete Rock or Neptunes track as soon
as you hear the first beat. Jazzy Jeff brings a sense of confidence
only displayed by those who have mastered their craft. There's
nothing on here that screams "look at me", instead
the songs are held together by a firm backbone created in
Jazzy Jeff's lab. While some DJs try to show off, cutting
for the sake of it and coming off like a hip-hop Yngwie Malmsteen.
Jeff's mixing and scratching are tasteful, you know he can
take out any sucker MC, but he doesn't have to prove that
on every cut. Displaying the precision of a surgeon, his cuts,
scratches, beat juggling and mixing are all on point leaving
no excess waste for the listener to have to wade through.
Like the best mixtape, The Magnificent glides from songs that
are destined to be underground classics, party tracks, songs
to get our swerve on to, and the straight head nodders. Any
of these 17 tracks could receive major airplay and return
Jeff to the top of the hip-hop game. However, I get the feeling
he enjoys the niche he's carved out for himself and is not
looking to further his name. Even when he was on regular rotation
on MTV, it was the Fresh Prince who was always mugging for
the camera while Jeff played the back wall, sunglasses down.
This album was just to show everyone that Jazzy is still the
best at hip-hop or R&B. Most likely he'll fade to the
back of our memory again, propelling track after track to
the top of the charts without us even realizing the role he
popmattersby Adam Dlugacz
PopMatters Music Critic
This solo joint from DJ Jazzy Jeff,
which follows other "Beat Generation" albums by
Jay Dee, Marley Marl, and Pete Rock, sees JJ come up with
a textured album steeped in jazz, soul, and funk. Jeff has
enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the rap game after
his time with Will "Fresh Prince" Smith--he started
his own production company A Touch of Jazz a few years ago--and
his expertise comes shining through in this slickly produced
affair, all cavernous bass lines, tight, hypnotic beats, and
gorgeously unhurried feel, with guests ranging from the fresh
to the famous. Names like Jill Scott, Boyz II Men's Shawn
Stockman, J-Live, and ?uestlove from the Roots supply a rich
selection of R&B croons and MC flows, and while there's
not much for the headbangers here, anyone looking for something
silky, soulful, and seductive will find The Magnificent a
massive aphrodisiac. --Paul Sullivan
A new-school architect, Jeff suffuses
his album with a throwback vibe that recalls the early '90s
work of A Tribe Called Quest, building beats from fluid guitar
melodies, muted piano chords, and viscous bass lines. Oliver
Say the name "DJ Jazzy Jeff" and
the next thing that will come to many peoples mind is "and
the Fresh Prince". The early nineties duo of producer
Jeff and rapper the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) were a grammy
winning, multi million selling outfit that set up the careers
for two young guys from Philadelphia trying to make it big
in the cut throat music business. Whilst Smith has found even
more fame in his crossover to acting, Jeff has earned a reputation,
through his production outfit A Touch of Jazz, as a producer
everybody who's anybody wants to work with. And he's worked
with some of the finest, with everyone from Tatyana Ali to
Michael Jackson as well as production on most of Smith's solo
After over a decade
of working on everyone else's projects Jeff has finally decided
to call in some of the favours and release his debut solo
album. His guest vocalists for each track are from both his
own "A Touch of Jazz" outfit as well as guests artists
he has deemed appropriate and worthy to accompany his tunes.
The album is expectedly a mainly hip hop and r'n'b affair,
however there are moments of jazzy and deep house beats for
those thinking it would be all too predictable.
A laidback hip hop
beat opens proceedings with the track The Magnificent and
features on vocals Baby Blak and MC Pauly Yamz, both of whom
are artists from A Touch of Jazz. Within the soft hip hop
beats you can hear Jazzy Jeff scratching it up with precision
and showing off some of his turntable skills. This is something
Jeff continues throughout the album and is definitely a highlight
in terms of listening pleasure. For Da Love Of Da Game and
Worldwide, which feature the same vocalists, offer a similar
style with both of these tracks offering the contrasting melodic
vocals versus the rapping MC.
Jeff captures the soulful
voice of Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman in How Do I Do whilst
creating a more P Diddy feel when collaborating with Freddie
Foxx in Scram. It is the final three tracks which hold the
most interest however and offer a little insight into other
areas of Jazzy Jeff's musical leanings. A Charmed Life features
the vocals of J-Live rapping over a jazzy beat and bass line.
We Live in Philly introduces the female vocals of Jill Scott
rapping over a funky bass line and beat whilst the final track,
In Time, explores the world of deep house.
This album is for fans
of those who love their hip hop with a well produced r'n'b
flavour. Or perhaps their r'n'b with cruisy hip hop beats.
Either way if that sounds like you then this is an album by
one of the most talented and respected producers on the scene.
It probably won't be so readily accepted by those who prefer
a more raw sound in their beats however in saying so Jeff
offers more than a stock standard genre album and is well
worth a listen.
While Will Smith, the
former Fresh Prince, has flourished as a solo act for most
of the past decade, DJ Jazzy Jeff has kept himself behind
the scenes, playing a key role in the success of Smith's first
two solo albums and helping to foster the careers of fellow
Philly artists Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild. Jeff's new
album, The Magnificent (part of BBE's "The Beat Generation"
series), is a homegrown effort that joins the producer with
a flock of other Philly-bred artists including Shawn Stockman
of Boyz II Men and ?uestlove. The album's first single, "For
Da Love Of Da Game," and "Musik Lounge" pick
up where the cool vibe of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's
"Summertime" left off. Jeff's magnificent versatility
shines throughout the album; his signature scratches and jazzy
guitar licks adorn hip-hop tracks like "Break It Down"
as well as smooth R&B songs like "We Are," featuring
Raheim. At a lengthy 17 tracks, The Magnificent seems to trudge
along at times, perhaps burdened by sparse arrangements which
keep the vocals center stage almost too consistently. But
just when things get yawny, the monotony is broken by a trio
of expertly crafted tunes: J-Live waxes poetic on the personal
value of education on the jazz-infused "A Charmed Life";
Jill Scott whimsically relates a dream as it occurs on "We
Live In Philly," a reinterpretation of Roy Ayers' "We
Live In Brooklyn Baby" ("It was a o-a-sis of athletes!"
she squeals); and "In Time," where the Nuyorican
house beats of Masters At Work meet Jeff's Philly soul.
Whilst his work with Will Smith is
well known it's Jeff's recent success with his A Touch of
Jazz label that has served to remind the listening public
that there's a whole lot more to this dude than a pop-rap
partnership. In a list of the most influential and successful
hip hop deejays, Jeffrey Allen Townes aka Jazzy Jeff, ranks
right up there with the likes of DJ Premier, Eric B, Marley
Marl and Grandmaster Flash. The New School pioneer enjoys
continued fame, in particular thanks to the stir caused by
his production company, A Touch of Jazz (Michael Jackson,
Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild).
'The Magnificent' album is Jeff off the leash; a production
project that calls in a good deal of guests that he helped
on the way up as well as forum for Jeff's own spinning skills.
Those featured include Jill Scott, Shaun Stockman from Boyz
II Men, Freddie Foxxx, J-Live, The Last Emperor & ?uestlove
from the Roots as well as a whole lot more from the Touch
of Jazz imprint whose stars are definitely in the ascendancy.
Swinging from hip hop to R'n'B, through nu-soul and back again,
'The Magnificent' is a rich quilt woven with skills, grooves,
slamming vocal performances and smooth production values.
The long awaited debut solo album from the
legendary turntablist and producer. Having worked behind the
scenes on a number of projects over the years, DJ Jazzy Jeff
is now stepping out of the shadows of his production company
(A Touch of Jazz) to bring you a ground breaking new album
reflecting the rich musical heritage of Philadelphia.
The album features guest appearances from Jill Scott, Shawn
Stockman from Boyz II Men, Freddie Foxxx, J-Live, Eric Roberson,
MAW, The Last Emperor, Oddisee, Raheem & ?uestlove from
the Roots as well as showcasing the many talented artists
at A Touch Of Jazz. It is an album that takes you on a musical
journey through all genres of urban music; from old skool
hip hop, smooth R'n'B and rap through to soulful spoken word
and deep house.
The album starts off with "THE MAGNIFICENT." The
track opens with a voice sample of the Fresh Prince from 1987's
"The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff" and then mid-tempo
Hip-Hop beat takes over. Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak trade off
verses giving props (kinda like Will always dose). Of course
Jazzy finishes off the song with the "Jazzy Jazzy-his
name is Jeff" bit. A bunch of scratches finish off the
"Shake It Off" is a track
featuring Chef who deleivers an up-tempo Hip-Hop joint about
forgetting about stress and negative things. The production
has these insane keyboards over a traditionally dope Hip-Hop
beat. Jeff also scratches alot during the chanted hook and
at the end.
Next up is my favorite (which most of u have
heard)..."FOR DA LOVE OF DA GAME." Philly emcees
Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak spit lyrics that any emcee can relate
2. It's just about writing and rapping and not worrying about
money and all the gimicks in rap music. Jazzy Jeff hits u
with an incredibly summery, laid back track with a sampled
R-N-B hook. Without a doubt one of the best Hip-Hop songs
in YEARS. Sadly this promo has the edit which is only over
3 minutes compared 2 the full 5 minute version.
Next up is "WORLDWIDE," another
track featuring Baby Blak -n- Pauly Yamz. The beat is mid-tempoed
and has a kinda raw street vibe. The r-n-b sung chorus is
nice 2...just raw. The subject matter is kinda schetchy 2
me. It just has the 2 emcees talking about themselves.
"HOW I DO" is a slightly raw, Hip-Hop
influenced mid-up-tempo R-N-B joint. It features the smooth,
silky-voiced Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. The song has Shawn
singing 2 a female that he is just meeting. Good song. The
track also has some nice sounds buried in the mix.
"BREAK IT DOWN" starts off with
a funny Brady Bunch sample that has Peter talking about his
new tape recorded to Greg and Marsha but tells them not 2
hit play cuz he has stuff recorded on it. Then the music stops
and the agree 2 listen 2 it. The the music starts back it.
It's really funny. J-Live drops a verse, then DJ Jazzy Jeff
gets busy on the wheels 4 a bit. J-Live's lyrics are nice
and get kinda playful. The song finishes off with a Spin Bad,
Exel, Sat One, DJ Revoluction and Q-Bert (and more DJs) scratching
like crazy. U kinda wish the song waz at least 10 minutes
long tho' so each DJ had more than a few seconds 2 represent.
Next up is the laid-back, chilled "MUSIK
LOUNGE." This is probably my 2nd favorite track. It has
a summery, laid back vibe but it's not like "...Love
of Da Game." The chorus has these great whistel samples
under the chanted chorus. Odyssey has a nice crisp and comfortable
flow that fits on the soulful groove perfectly.
"ROCK WIT U" is a mad soulful R-N-B
song but it's mid-tempoed. Be beat has sythesizers all over
the place over a steady tempo u may expect on a Jill Scott
album. The song is basically just about anticipating kicking
back with someone special.
"SCRAM" featuring Freddi Foxx is
next up. Jeff starts scratching from the begininng of this
gritty Hip-Hop joint. Freddie Foxx dose one of his finest
performances over Jeff's beat. Bumpy Knuckles threatens all
fake gangstas and thugs on this song.
Raheim shows up on "MY PEOPLE."
The production is soulful with a bit of funk. This R-N-B song
has that soulful A Touch of Jazz tag all over it. Some really
creative samples are entwined all in this beat. Raheim sings
passionatly about black pride and the politics of race. His
vocals are layered nicely in the background.
"KNOW UR HOOD" may be my 3rd favorite
track. It opens with a humorous conversation between Pauly
Yams and Chef about "their friend" who just dosn't
act right...ha ha. Jazzy Jeff plays the part of the guy they
are talking about. Both emcees just talk about Jeff's character
as being their friend but that he dosn't need 2 show up on
on the street cuz his selfish, flossing ways are bound 2 find
him some trouble.
"LOVE SAVIOUR" features up-and-coming
female emcee Flo Brown with Raheim handeling the hook. She
raps about this guy she's fallen 4 in a reality-based way.
Another mid-tempoed soulful Hip-Hop joint.
Back 2 straight Hip-Hop on "MYSERY MAN."
The Last Emperor" raps on this track which also has Jazzy
Jeff scratching under the hook.
"WE ARE" is nice Hip-Hop/R-N-B
song featuring Cy Young and Raheim. Cy Young holds down the
rap and Raheim handels the R-N-B chorus.
Some of u have already heard "A CHARMED
LIFE." This track features J-Live rapping over an incredibly
jazzy, live instrument track featuing lots of cymbols and
vibes. J-Live's verse are fast paced and could stand on their
own over the music which seems 2 accompany his verse rather
than him rapping over it. The piano is also a nice touch.
"WE LIVE IN PHILLY" is the only
track i expected more from. As a life-long Jazzy Jeff fan
and a HUGE fan of Jill Scott, i waz expecting this song 2
be my favorite...but it isn't...ha ha. The beat is influence
by "We Live In Brooklyn." I love Jill Scotts spoken
word stuff but this is more of a monologe. She kinda just
runs her mouth over the retro beat in this character voice
that is quickly gets on my nerves. The lyrics sound as if
she's just on the street talking 2 a friend and most of it's
contents reflect on Philly and the people from there.
Last is "IN TIME" featuring V.
While the idea isn't unheard of, i personally did not expect
it...this a dance track. Co-produced by Masters At Work. Since
dance music's influence has not been felt on Hip-Hop or R-N-B
albums other than in remixes, this is a very nice touch. The
track isn't the pop kinda dance track tho'...more of an R-N-B/disco
vibe. V's layered vocals during the chorus are also a nice
Overall, this album is great. Keep in mind that i havn't even
had this album for a week so i havn't gotten really really
deep in2 it yet (tho' it is the only album listened 2 since
i got it). This is also the promo tho' there is a possibility
so there is a chance that certain things could be different
compared 2 the album when it's released. A few of the trax
that i thought were just above-average have grown on me even
more. While mainstream Hip-Hop and mainstream R-N-B fans may
not totally be feeling this, all REAL Hip-Hop and R-N-B fans
should automatically fall in love with it. The album is so
good tho' that i'm sure it's audience will grow and branch
out in all directions. I really missed not having the Fresh
Prince on this album, but DJ Jazzy Jeff needed 2 let the non-believers
know what time it waz...and he is going 2 when people hear
To most casual fans, the name Jazzy
Jeff conjures up images of Fresh Prince's bubblegum raps --
and it's true, Jeff Townes was the man behind both the turntables
and the beats on most of Fresh Prince's early work (save the
classic "Summertime," produced by Hula and Finger).
But Jazzy Jeff is far more than the guy who produced "I
Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson."
Making his name in the early 1980s, Jazzy Jeff popularized
the transform scratch, which placed emphasis on cutting the
sound in and out of the mix using the crossfader or line switches
of a mixer. Originally invented by fellow Philadelphia DJ
Cash Money, the transform revolutionized scratching, which
had previously placed more emphasis on manipulating the record
with one's wrist movement. This, alone, is enough to place
Jeff in the hip-hop history books, but his impact on the art
doesn't stop there. After parting ways with Will Smith, Jeff
continued to be a major player on the Philly scene. Since
forming his production team, A Touch of Jazz, in 1990, Jeff
has produced beats for artists like City High, Lil' Kim and
his former partner, Will Smith. Still, it was his contribution
to the Roots' 1999 LP Things Fall Apart that brought Jazzy
Jeff back into the limelight.
His first solo album, The Magnificent, is far from solo. The
tracks are produced by Townes, but feature a host of guest
vocalists, ranging from superstars like Jill Scott and Boyz
II Men crooner Shawn Stockman to unknowns like Pauly Yamz
and Baby Blak. While the beats are impeccable, most of the
vocals fall short.
The only true successes are "Break It Down" and
"A Charmed Life," both featuring the unfuckwithable
J-Live. While the former is exclusive to this compilation,
"A Charmed Life" is taken from J-Live's latest,
All of the Above, which is a much smarter purchase. Freddie
Foxx (a.k.a. Bumpy Knuckles) also excites with his rough and
rugged "Scram." Sadly, Jill Scott's interpolation
of Roy Ayers' "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby" (titled
"We Live in Philly") fails miserably, and is only
a reminder of how incredible Digable Planets' 1994 cover truly
was. Like its predecessors, this current installment of BBE's
Beat Generation delivers nothing more than half-baked sketches.
BY DAFYDD MCKAHARAY
For Da Love of Da Game
THIS is the best song
out of Philadelphia this year. There, I said it. Strong words
for a strong song. Love Of The Game is a masterpiece. I don't
think I've ever referred to any cut as a masterpiece at PhillyHipHop.com
but in this case it's appropriate so I'm going for it.
Our legendary DJ & producer Jazzy Jeff and major league
all star emcees Baby Blak and Paul Yamz represent Philly so
hard it literally brings tears to my eyes. If this is any
indication of what Jazzy Jeff's upcoming album The Magificent
is going to be about (and it is), the Hip Hop world is about
to be turned on its ears. BBE Records has a no doubt winner
on it's hands. This song is pure butta, from the silky smoov
vocals of Baby Blak and Paul Yamz to the superifficly soulful,
Philly Neo-Soul instrumentation courtesy of The Magnificent
Jazzy Jeff. All of this is neatly wrapped around an outstanding
hook consisting of delicious R&B vocals from Valvin Marteen
advising to " love what you do and do what you love"
intertwined with a scratched in sample that tells us these
three "represent for Hip Hop and not for rap y'all."
The realness of this song adds to its allure. Strip away their
careers, fame, hectic schedules and fans and you'd still find
these brothers in the gritty streets of Philly pouring out
their hearts simply for the Love Of The Game.
Jazzy Jeff: The Magnificent
Seven EP on BBE Records
JJ comes clean after the fresh Prince. Finally indulging in
what he loves, some pure musical hip hop grooves with some
of his friends and lyrics that still ring true.
Big on the SP12 beats that will shudder your system, but with
some clean instrumental lines and vocal help from Pauly Yams
and Baby Blak on tracks like "For da love of the game",
it steers clear of hip hop clichés. The b-lines always
drop well with funk appeal and the snare has that characteristic
Slum Village make an appearance on "Are you Ready"
and CY Young on the "Rebirth". Cruising stuff indeed
and the forthcoming LP will feature Jill Scott, Questlove,
Sean Stockton from Boys II Men and more. Aiiight!...9/10