Today in Hip Hop History: January 22, 1965
Today marks the 51st birthday of Jeffrey Townes, also known as DJ Jazzy Jeff, one half of the hip hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. DJ Jazzy Jeff was born in Philadelphia where he rose to prominence in high school as a block party DJ.
The DJ, producer and actor then won the very first ever Rap Grammy Award with the duo’s song “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” marking a significant accolade within hip hop and its gradual acceptance into the mainstream. Beyond that, their most famous single was indubitably “Summertime,” which also won a Grammy Award in 1992 and has since been sampled over 20 times in all types of music genres.
The DJ also won the 1986 New Music Seminar DJ Battle and contributed scratch overdubs to the new hit sensation hip hop biopic Straight Outta Compton. Most famously, DJ Jazzy Jeff starred as a consistent supporting role in the classic 90’s sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, in which he played “Jazz,” Will’s friend who was known for his unrelenting swagger and being thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil.
DJ Jazzy Jeff, although not typically known by the casual hip hop fan, remains an important precense in the genre due to his crossover hits and suave acting. Happy birthday to the hip hop pioneer!