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By Gateway Arts & Entertainment Staff Wednesday, 5 September 2007

DJ Jazzy Jeff

The Return of the Magnificent


I bet recording with DJ Jazzy Jeff is a very organic experience—he’s probably one of those low-pressure producers whom rappers love working with. If Jazzy Jeff—who made a name for himself alongside a young, rapping Will Smith—doesn’t have an unending supply of buddha and video games to spark recording sessions, I wouldn’t be surprised if his studio was on some new-age feng shui **** with yoga mats abound.

Either scenario seems equally plausible, and both would lead to the relaxed kind of tracks that are found on The Return of the Magnificent.

Nothing on the album sounds forced: the rappers who make an appearance seem to be chosen more because they are friends of the veteran producer and DJ and less because they’re marketable names. The biggest name is probably the half-out-of-his-element Method Man: “Hold It Down” floats above water thanks to his indelible charisma, even though we’ve heard these rhymes before in various shapes and sizes, bad fart jokes and all.

Usually on these kinds of albums, the bigger-name guest stars will phone in their verses because they know few fans will hear the songs. But all parties involved sound enthused to be a part of The Return of the Magnificent: Posdnuos (of De La Soul) continues his trend of consistent, workman-like performances on “Let Me Hear U Clap.” Big Daddy Kane lets his voice melt into the funk of “The Garden;” and CL Smooth hasn’t sounded this good since the last time he worked with Pete Rock.

This applies to most of the songs on The Return of the Magnificent, besides a few missteps. Smartly, Jeff stays out of the way of the songs, appearing only in humorous skits about his own fame. With open, spacious sounds and Jeff’s utilitarian beats, it’s the type of music you’d only heard on the radio if you had an XM or Sirius subscription. But don’t call it a comeback—Jazzy has been around for years.

–Renato Pagnani, Arts & Entertainment Staff


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