Six degrees of separation is very real. It’s also the thing that brought us the dynamic duo known to the world as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
A mere house party and phone call changed Jazzy Jeff’s life forever (and ours too, when you think about it).
“This is pre-social media, pre-pagers, and cell phones and I got a last-minute call to do a house party,” Jazzy Jeff told AfroTech. “I picked up the phone to call my emcee at the time and he wasn’t in the house, never answered the phone, so I just had to go and do the party without him. It just so happened to be next door to Will’s house. So, Will comes in the basement, and he’s basically like, ‘Hey, where’s your guy?’ And I was like, ‘He didn’t answer the phone.’ So, he was like, ‘Do you mind if I rock with you tonight?’ And I was like, ‘Sure.’ And that was 40 years ago.”
The rest is, as they say, history.
A missed phone call created a brotherhood that ultimately morphed into a music group that made its way to the main stage on one of America’s most beloved sitcoms, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
Despite not wanting to initially do the show, Jazzy Jeff created the renowned theme song that is still being played all over the world today.
“‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song was made in 15 minutes,” Jazzy Jeff recalled to AfroTech. “And it was made because I did not think this was going to be the theme song. They needed music to go in this place, almost as a holder. So Will and I went in the studio and we created something, and we gave it to them.”
He continued: “And that is the same song that’s on the TV show today. So it was kind of being thrust in, to realize that this was going to be a thing. We didn’t know about licensing when it came down to television, which was controlled through the record company at the time.”
From “The Fresh Prince” to the duo’s universal hit with “Summertime,” what Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were doing has been considered nothing less of legendary. However, Jazzy Jeff says this was never planned.
“You don’t plan,” he explained. “I think every music artist that tries to do this professionally wants to have a song that stands the test of time, so to kind of have that with the theme song of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and have that with the show, but also to have that with ‘Summertime,’ is really mind-blowing. A lot of artists don’t get one.”
Passing The Torch
Today, Jazzy Jeff is using his expertise to help other aspiring artists through his online music-producing program, Command Central.
Students will not only attend courses led by the renowned producer himself, but a few familiar faces will join in on the fun to equip participants with resources to build core foundational skills.
“I think from the beginning of me doing this, I have been mentoring somebody,” Jazzy Jeff said. “I’m someone that is a big sharer of information. If I’ve figured out something that I thought was really great, I gotta pick up the phone and I got to call somebody and tell them, ‘Hey man, did you know you could do this?’ And this goes from your television remote, all the way across the board to making music.”
The intensive six-week online program helps to enhance participants’ beat-making skills with in-depth lessons that range from drums, melody, arrangements, mixing, and sampling.
From there, they will be able to apply the learning to tracks that are self-produced.
Available in two tiers, the DIY version includes a full-video program, written exercises, and bonus resources.
The interactive version has the same elements, but students will also have a chance to attend weekly live sessions with DJ Jazzy Jeff and other special guests.
Additionally, they will have the opportunity to produce work that will be played during his live DJ sets as well as receive exclusive feedback on weekly submitted tracks.