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DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Return Of The Magnificent

Album Review by: William E. Ketchum III

Mon, April 2nd, 2007

DJ Jazzy Jeff-The Return Of The MagnificentWith his lack of activity in the mainstream rap scene, some may think that Jazzy Jeff’s closest relevance to today’s entertainment scene is getting tossed out the Banks mansion by Uncle Phil on sitcom reruns. But real heads know that Jeff’s hip-hop contributions didn’t stop with the Fresh Prince albums of the late 80s and early 90s. After dropping his critically-acclaimed solo debut, The Magnificent, in 2002, Jeff has kept busy DJing shows and releasing installments with his Hip Hop Forever compilation series. With his sophomore solo set, Jazzy Jeff gets down behind the boards and employs some indie rap’s finest to help show listeners that he hasn’t lost a step.

As evident by his recent efforts (and by his name), Jeff’s penchant lies in lacing lush, laid back grooves. His silky, layered keys for CL Smooth on “All I Know” stands up with the material CL made with Pete Rock, and “The Garden” uses lush keys and guitar keys to accentuate Big Daddy Kane’s ode to hip-hop. Jeff’s R&B hustle is in tact as well, perfectly backing songstress ChinahBlac’s coos with soft piano keys on “Touch Me Wit Ur Hands” and providing a grown and sexy two-step for soulster Raheem DeVaughn with “My Soul Ain’t For Sale.”

But don’t get it twisted: Jazzy Jeff is the same producer who laced upbeat party grooves for Will Smith, and there are still plenty of hard-hitting, hip-hopcentric efforts as well. “Jeff N Fess” features Rhymefest rhyming over Jeff’s frenetic scratching and a catchy breakbeat, and State Property alumnus Peedi Peedi runs wild over the rejuvenated old school feel of “Brand New Funk 2k7.”In perhaps the most interesting moment of the LP, “Hold It Down” sees Jeff breaks more needles and employs an assertive head nodder that deftly matches Method Man’s braggadocios quips.

The Return Of The Magnificent’s flaws are few and far between. “She Was So Fly” features another silky instrumental, but it clashes with Kardinal Offishall’s loud, energetic flow. Also puzzling is the exclusion of the Little Brother-featured “Whatever U Want” and the snazzy instrumental “Bossynova,” each of which were on the previously leaked EP version of the album. Nevertheless, 'The Return Of The Magnificent' lives up to its name—the triumphant homecoming

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I'm not worried about the Little Brother track. The EP is there 4 those who want it. 2 me, the more music the better. Why release the LP with the same songs from the EP plus a few others? I still wish he'd release The Magnificent EP on CD.

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I think the little brother track was high quality, lucky we got the EP I guess.. trotm is 80 mins long so he had no room for extra tracks.. 5 missed the cut apparently including skillz track and I think 1 with musiq

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well its the same deal with the first album then. Rolling in at 79 mins. Jeff maxis these bad boys out, and fair play. We want valeu for money :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

Give me a few days and i'll knock out my own review of this album. I feel pretty darn honoured to have got myself a copy as a gift from the man himself.

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Onion AV Club

Kanye West jokingly name-dropped DJ Jazzy Jeff as the Andrew Ridgeley to Will Smith's George Michael, but Jeff has nevertheless earned the respect of underground hip-hop heads as a sought-after producer, DJ, and mini-mogul. Jeff earned accolades for his stellar contribution to BBE's Beat Generation series, The Magnificent. Now comes Return Of The Magnificent (Rapster), the rare sequel that tops its predecessor. Jeff has toned down The Magnificent's heavy R&B and dance elements in favor of straightforward hip-hop, courtesy of promising newcomers like Twone Gabz and Kel Spencer and ringers like J-Live, Rhymefest, Jean Grae, Method Man, C.L. Smooth, and Big Daddy Kane, as well as a non-musical cameo from a certain Oscar-nominated ex-partner of Jeff's. Jeff sustains a seductive, organic retro vibe throughout, and the guest performers all bring their A game. Dynomite! A-

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FORMAT Magazine

DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Return of the Magnificent

May 6th, 2007

Reviews > Albums > New Releases — by Chad Morgan

DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Return of the Magnificent

If you ever needed a reminder of who Jazzy Jeff is, a glance at his track listing will jog your memory fairly quickly. This effort proves no different, with a significant portion of the songs being blessed by A-Listers and hip-hop icons. Not only is this representative of his time in the game, but it also highlights his networking abilities. Respected and seasoned, Jazzy Jeff embodies the Return of the Magnificent title without question.

Funky drums and expertly blended content gets you feeling good right off the bat, with no hurdles until well into the CD. Eventually coming across as slightly cliché (backpacker), Jeff isn’t concerned with the hate. Instead, the music is the focus and rightfully so. Noteworthy tunes come from Kardinal Offishall, Jean Grae and the legendary CL Smooth. One of the nicest tracks on the LP is blessed by Raheem DeVaughn, where soulful croons are sprinkled with guitar riffs and banging drums to seamlessly blend 30 years of music into a smooth package.

Whether breaking his hip being thrown out of the mansion or touring Asia with Serato, Jeff has been rocking parties since you first tuned into BET. In the words of another wax rat. Get familiar.

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ALL HIP HOP

The Return Of The Magnificent

Artist: DJ Jazzy Jeff

Title: The Return Of The Magnificent

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Reviewed by: Danielle Stolich

Don’t call it a comeback. As one of the few DJs who can seamlessly transition from mainstream to underground while still remaining relevant today as a producer and turntablist, Grammy winner DJ Jazzy Jeff needs no introduction. Jeff returns with a refreshing soul-influenced album sure to whet the palates of those craving a dose of innovative Hip-Hop. The Return of The Magnificent (BBE/Rapster) picks up where Jeff’s 2001 debut The Magnificent left off.

The sound is still heavily influenced by funk, soul and jazz but this time the array of artists are much more impressive. The lineup includes heavy-hitters like Rhymefest, Pos (of De La Soul), Method Man, J-Live, Big Daddy Kane and Peedi Peedi (bka Peedi Crack), all of who do not disappoint on this solid effort. While Jeff’s tracks are undeniably the main attraction, The Return’s strength also lies in the guest appearances. Many of the artists drop verses that remind you of why you copped their past albums in the first place (exemplified by “Hold It Down” featuring Method Man), making this an enjoyable LP from beginning to end.

Standouts include J-Live’s smooth ode “Practice”, where the underground favorite spits introspective flows over a funky synth track (peace to Donald Byrd) and “All I Know” where CL Smooth shines over twinkling piano riffs and bass while asserting why he’s “the real Soul Survivor”. Other gems include the Gang Starr channeling “Jeff n Fess” featuring Rhymefest and the old-school-esque “Brand New Funk 2k7” featuring a focused Peedi Crack. Rounding out the LP are laidback grooves such as the seductive “Touch Me with Your Handz” featuring ChinahBlac and the Raheem Devaughn-assisted “My Soul Ain’t For Sale”, both of which satisfy the sophisticated audience but don’t sound out of place among the Hip-Hop tracks.

Although the highs outweigh the low moments, The Return still suffers from a few missteps. While the hunger of lesser-known rappers like Twone Gabz (“Hip-Hop”) and Eshon Burgundy & Black Ice (“Run That Back”) is admirable, they don’t spit any memorable material. As a result, they become overshadowed by Jeff’s remarkable production. However, energetic newcomer Kel Spencer breaks this pattern on the head-nodding “The Definition”, where with a slick, witty flow he attempts to show he’s what the game is missing.

Overall, DJ Jazzy Jeff serves up a first-rate Hip-Hop album that celebrates the old, the new and today’s music, making it worth copping. As the appetite increases for more meaningful, innovative Hip-Hop, DJ Jazzy Jeff satisfies that hunger with The Return of the Magnificent.

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hiphopdx

Nowadays, it seems like the formula to make a “hot” album is to have a few of the big-name producers on your album: Scott Storch, Kanye, and Swizz Beatz. It’s an interesting formula, as Storch is nothing but a mini-Dre, Kanye only saves the good beats for himself and Common, and Swizz averages about one nice beat a year. Considering that the formula seems to be working less and less (check Game’s sales compared to his first album), why has no one peeped talent elsewhere? One would have to no further than Philly, the hometown of Jeffrey Townes – better known as Jazzy Jeff.

Five years since the dope The Magnificent – and only two years removed from the Live 8 performance in Philly with the Fresh Prince himself – the Grammy award-winning producer/DJ is still on his grind. Any questions concerning relevance to hip hop should be immediately answered by who Jeff got on this album. The guest list is stupid nice: Rhymefest, Jean Grae, Big Daddy Kane, Method Man, CL Smooth and more.

The album plays through as a bit of a story, with Jazz having to take a long drive. Usually skits detract from an album, but these are just damn funny. Give them a listen, as they’re full of self-deprecating humor. It goes well with the almost modest tone of the album. This album is no pretension; there’s no air of self-importance. The first track, Hip Hop, is a perfect example of this, as Twone Gabz breaks it down over a laid-back musical backdrop: “Now how they gonna say I ain’t real/‘less I’m pulling triggers or gun play/Cuz I ain’t hustlin’ or pushin’ drugs or money?/ I think I’m goin about the music the wrong way/Cuz at the end of the day, guns don’t make beats/Just ‘cuz you’re from the hood, Charlie, don’t make you street.”

Let Me Hear U Clap with P.O.S. continues the laid-back vibe over some light piano keys, and Run That Back follows suit, but with Eshon Burgundy and Black Ice spitting harder rhymes. A few tracks ahead is Jeff N Fess, featuring Rhymefest. The beat is tailor-made to fit Rhymefest’s strong mic presence, but it’s essentially the same as Gang Starr’s Manifest (word to J-23).

Supa Jean is dope, as Jean Grae portrays the club scene immaculately (even if it is again flipping familiar samples, Potholes In My Lawn & others). Unfortunately, the song is out of place, especially when it’s followed by Big Daddy Kane’s The Garden. The song is a bit of a disappointment, as it conjures up memories of the latter-day, R&B Kane. The beat is too soft, and it’s reminiscent of one of those awkward MTV “All-Star” songs where the message of the song is lost due to how preachy it is.

Things get back on track with Hold It Down, which has Method Man spitting some heat: “I wrote a 16 and threw it in a tek/Shootin’ game at these fools now for foolin’ with a vet, yeah/It’s Mr. Mef really now who did you expect?/Another ****-talkin’ emcee with booty on his breath?” The track isn’t overly hard, but much more satisfying than the past few tracks, as it is up-tempo, and the beat knocks a little harder.

All I Know is a continues the departure from the first half of the album, as Jazz takes CL Smooth with him out to space with a very “out there” beat. CL’s rhymes complement the beat perfectly, and make it one of the standout cuts on the album. My Soul Ain’t For Sale is a throwaway track, though Come On quickly remedies that. The album closes out with Brand New Funk 2K7, which at first seems like an unnecessary addition until Peedi Peedi rips the track with a silly-ass flow.

Overall, The Return of the Magnificent is filled with generally solid rhymes and beats, with flashes of brilliance. If you do like Jeff and refrain from taking yourself too seriously while listening to this, you’ll enjoy it for what it is. Not “backpacker,” not “gangsta,” not “R&B.” Just a collection of some pretty choice cuts.

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XXL Mag

It seems like a lifetime ago that DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince warned us that “Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble.” Some 20 years later, the Prince has been crowned Hollywood royalty, while Jeff continues to solidify his icon status as a versatile producer. The Philadelphia jock made his solo debut in 2002 with The Magnificent, whose languorous beats were sometimes too smoothed-out for their own good. But on his second LP, The Return of the Magnificent, Jeff reaffirms his affinity for subtle arrangements, sampled break beats and deft scratches.

This time out, Jeff enlists a group of better-known friends and ramps up the production. On “Jeff N Fess,” Jazzy resuscitates Gang Starr’s “Manifest” beat with layers of congas, while Rhymefest crams in witty wordplay (“Even though my neck ain’t icy/The jewels in my head is pricey/The Jews at my label, they like me”). He also updates the classic Substitution break to create “Supa Jean,” a lesson in irresistible feminine swagger by Jean Grae. Jeff proves equally adept at constructing moody hip-hop grooves. Take “The Garden,” which features a solemn Big Daddy Kane reflecting on rap’s fallen heroes, from Jam Master Jay to Big Pun.

At times, though, the nostalgia feels overwrought with unnecessary remakes like “Go See the Doctor 2K7,” with Twone Gabz, and “Brand New Funk 2K7,” featuring Peedi Peedi. There are also collaborations that look good on paper but don’t live up to their potential—for instance, Method Man’s undistinguished rhymes on the scratch-heavy “Hold It Down” and Raheem Devaughn’s awkwardly phrased chorus on “My Soul Ain’t for Sale.”

Thankfully, those are just minor distractions on an otherwise solid effort. With artists like J-Live (“Practice”) and De La Soul’s Posdnuos (“Let Me Hear U Clap”) stepping up and delivering standout performances, The Return cements Jazzy Jeff as more than just Will Smith’s bespectacled sidekick—he’s a prince among beatsmiths.

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