DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince - He's the DJ, I'm The Rapper
He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper is one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever produced. In 2013, it still stands out as one of the greatest pieces of hip-hop history and it has rarely been matched. It was hip-hop's first double album. The first side was dedicated to Fresh Prince's storytelling, the second focused on Jazzy Jeff's DJ skills. The album went double platinum and the single "Parent's Just Don't Understand" reached #13 in Billboard's pop charts which was something unheard of for hip-hop at the time. The album has sold over 3 million copies to date. Rock the House laid the groundwork of what Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince would become but "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper" delivered on their promise. Jeff's beats and samples took the tracks to a new level and the Fresh Prince grew as an emcee. The musical chemistry between the two on the album is undeniable and this is probably the definitive emcee and DJ album. The Fresh Prince gives Jazzy Jeff just as much shine on the album as his comedic raps get in tracks such as "Nightmare on My Street" and "Parent's Just Don't Understand."
The first single from the album was actually "Brand New Funk" which surely must be considered a hip-hop classic. A James Brown sample is the basis of the track which mixes Fresh Prince describing the discovery of an amazing track with Jazzy Jeff cutting and scratching samples.
"Time to Chill" features a laid back sample to whistle along to. It is like an early version of "Summertime" with FP imploring audiences to sit back and relax. The track is a great example of the Fresh Prince's new confidence on the mic. His rhymes are strong and the cadence and delivery superbly mixes with the aing a long tune that Jeff delivers.
Charles "Charlie Mack" Alston was JJFP's bodyguard and he gets a special dedication on track 5. He went on to work with Will as he reached hollywood superstardom before going back to Philly to work with local community groups and give back to society. This is one of the strongest tracks on the album, it has a focused lyric, and Jazzy Jeff scratching up "So Damn Tough" vocal samples throughout the chorus. Charlie Mack is an intimidating figure and this track perfectly describes why you would never want to cross him and why he is first out that limo.
As We Go features a classic Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick sample from La Di Da Di. "Here We Go Again" is a great example of fantastic samples and the fresh prince's more laidback rhymes. They flow effortlessly and are in the pocket over great jazzy horns and great musicality. It is actually one of the best tracks they have ever done and probably deserved to be featured as a single. "Pump up the Bass," is more trademark rhyming and scratching set to a heavy groove. The highlight is when they break down the track with Jeff's scratching, before bringing in the drums and the bass, and then FP delivers sonme great rhyme schemes towards the end of the track.
"Parent's Just Don't Understand" had the universal appeal that everyone could relate to. Accompanied with a hilarious video it dominated MTV's playlist and pushed the hip-hop duo into the mainstream. They won a grammy for the track and it led to some criticisng the duo, but the Fresh rince hPad never changed his comedic style of storytelling and when you listen to "He's the DJ," nit is clear this is still an out and out hip hop album.
"Let's Get Busy Baby" was a classic Fresh Prince rhyme to the ladies which he would later expand on on albums like "Homebase." Jazzy Jeff backs up the track with some great horn samples and a driving rhythm.
Live at Union Square was an amazing recording of a Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince concert from November 1986. The live skills are amazing even though Will's voice was still very high pitched. Jazzy Jeff plays Cheryl Lyn's "Got to be real" while FP does some call and response with the audience. Jazzy Jeff then does some backwards scratching and the transformer scratch that gets the crowd going wild. This track is a great example of how good their live show was back then and why they were so successful touring with LL Cool J, EPMD and Run DMC at the time.
"D.J. on the Wheels," "Hip Hop Dancers Theme" and "Jazzy's in the House" are instrumental Jazzy Jeff tracks. The beats and scratching on these tracks are amazing and they are some of the best tracks on the album. "My Buddy" and "Human Video Game" are Ready Rock C's tracks and feature some great beatboxing including of the Donkey Kong theme. These tracks add to the variety of the album and it never gets repetitive even though the album clocks in at well over 70 minutes.
"Rhythm Trax House Party Style" is a classic example of Jazzy Jeff busting out on the 1's and 2's and the Fresh Prince prompting him for a variety of scratches. Jazzy Jeff responds to Fresh Prince's rhymes with vocal samples all over a kicking hip hop beat. This amazing interplay between emcee and DJ is the basis for rocking many hip-hop house parties in West Philly and it translates on track amazingly well.
The title track, "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper" is a fierce mix of hard fresh prince battle rhymes and DJ scratches. The energy and excitement of the track is unstoppable and the beat continually changes throughout. It is pure fun and not a structured track at all, with the Fresh Prince freestyling over most of it.
Overall this album has managed to stand the test of time. It is a great example in hip-hop when the DJ received as much shine as the emcee and the music on this album are great examples of both artforms. The chemistry between Will and Jeff is undeniable and between Jeff's sampling and world class scratching and the Fresh Prince's rhyming this will remain forever a hip-hop classic.
- Nightmare on My Street
- Here We Go Again
- Brand New Funk
- Time to Chill
- Charlie Mack
(1st out ot the Limo)
- As We Go
- Parent's Just Don't Understand
- Pump Up the Bass
- Let's Get Busy Baby
- Live at Union Square
- D.J. on the Wheels
- My Buddy
- Rhythm Trax - House Party Style
- He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
- Hip Hop Dancer's Theme
- Jazzy's in the House
- Human Video Game