This morning I caught a little bit of the Today Show on NBC. I rarely watch TV, and never morning shows, but I watched a few minutes as I sipped my coffee. At one point they cut to a conversation between host Natalie Morales and some guy who I assume serves as the cliché Hollywood correspondent.
They were talking about the latest TMZ-type rumor concerning Will Smith (and I don’t even remember what it was). But then they mentioned that actor Smith started as a hip-hop artist along side DJ Jazzy Jeff. The man on the Today Show, loudly dressed and cackling like a human coyote, started dissing Jazzy Jeff, mocking “What ever happened to that guy? No one in the public has heard from him since. Is he even still alive?” to paraphrase.
I dismissed it and tuned out the rest of the show, and then turned off the TV. But it bothered me, gnawed at me all day, to the point that it’s after 10 p.m. and I’ve traveled and worked all day and still I need to write this to get it off my chest.
Shame on you, Today Show, and shame on you, you insignificant buzzard-man for talking 'itch about a true artist. If you knew anything about Hollywood, entertainment, or the music industry (that’s supposed to be your job, right?) then you would know that Jazzy Jeff is not only alive (I found that insulting) but a significant contributor to the evolution and refinement of modern hip hop.
Just because Jazzy Jeff isn’t making 20 million dollars a year in blockbuster movies that are merchandised on the side of McDonalds cups doesn’t mean he is persona non grata. But instead of getting angry, let me relieve you of your unbounding ignorance:
Jeffrey Allen Townes, or DJ Jazzy Jeff, is originally from Philadelphia, where he teamed up with a charismatic young rapper named the Fresh Prince to release a light-hearted, teen rap album in 1987 that rose the charts to success. Smith and Townes went on to act together in “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” which vaulted Smith into television, and later movie stardom. Good for him – I truly like Will Smith, and believe he’s one of the good guys who deserves his celebrity, and handles it with aplomb.
And what was the fate of DJ Jazzy Jeff?
He’s gone on to make music for the last 25 years, that’s all.
I say that sarcastically, because apparently that’s not good enough for some low-level gossiper on The Today Show, but to me it’s impressive. In fact, I’ve heard quite a few of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s songs, and albums, and mix tapes, and collaborations, and they’re pretty damn good. Great, even. In my opinion he should be applauded as a true artist, a pioneer, someone who has passionately focused on the quality of his craft. He's rocked the turntables for a quarter of a century and passionately shared that sonic joy with his underground fans, instead of chasing Hollywood money by kissing Hollywood ass.
Big-up DJ Jazzy Jeff, we true hip hoppers and music aficionados appreciate you. You’re a career musician, a rap legend, an oratorical historian, a soul griot, and deserve better than to be blindsided by some sub-vanilla chicken-shit morning show that wouldn’t know true culture if it jumped up and bit them on their bony, limousine-seat warmed asses.
Oh, and remember that gossip correspondent I was talking about, the one who put your name in his mouth? I spent fifteen minutes on Google trying to figure out who he was, but nowhere could I find his name, or any reference to who he is, or even that he exists at all.
Maybe all is as it should be.
Please email the Today Show and demand an on-air retraction of their comments, and apology to Dj Jazzy Jeff:
Click here to contact the Today Show.
By the way, check out DJ Jazzy Jeff’s impressive Discography (taken from Wikipedia):
Solo work as DJ Jazzy Jeff
As DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
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Norm Schriever is a best-selling author, expat, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. He travels the globe, telling the stories of the people he finds, and hopes to make the world a little bit better place with his words.