Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Megadope Jazzy Jeff

"The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff" is one of those cuts that's dope now, but you had to've been around in 1987 to really appreciate how impressive it was when DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince first dropped it. Actually, the rhymes are pretty simple... Smith is of course praising the DJ, but in a less playful, clever way than he we've come to expect from him, instead just providing a basic platform for Jeff to showcase his skills. The instrumental features unapologetically crashing drums, bashed cymbals, and the occasional classic old school sample as Jeff flexes. Sometimes he just gets nice on the hook, other times he cuts in samples to finish his partner's sentences (The Prince starts, "in a battle you cannot win, because my DJ will" and Jazzy Jeff rolls in a vocal sample from "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" to finish the sentence: "tear your butt limb from limb!") or does tricks ("make it sound like a bird... now make it chirp." And of course there's the unforgettable moment where "my DJ transformed into an Autobot" and he showcases the transformer scratch.

So this 12" doesn't offer much by way of non-album versions of "The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff"... there's just the regular and Instrumental versions. But there is a dope exclusive B-side.

A megadope exclusive B-side, to be exact. "The Megadope Mix" is a 10 minute mix of songs from their then forthcoming album, Rock the House. And this is really a pre-commercial Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Any keyboards or samples and such that may've been featured in the original songs are cut out or at least mixed down in favor of playing up the thumping drums, handclaps and constant rhythm cuts. They even use the original, rawer version of "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble," as opposed to the 1988 Extended Mix that most audiences are familiar with today. You really get the sense that young Will Smith is just freestyling these raps to you, rather than it being a series of major label records being spun in a mix. Jeff even finishes with the least melodic moments from "A Touch of Jazz," but don't mistake that for a criticism. This mix is banging and even makes the cheesiest and most kid-friendly moments of their early catalog (I'm looking at you, "Just One of Those Days") palatable to a hardcore purist.

This is one record that's truly earned its place among as a classic crate staples. And because it was backed by a major label, it's in cheap, plentiful supply. It may not be as mind-blowing as it was in '87, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a head who won't still enjoy giving this a listen.

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