On Tuesday June June 22, HipHopDX spoke to DJ Jazzy Jeff. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native is a turntablist icon, in addition to his vast production credits in Hip Hop and R&B. The longtime musical partner to The Fresh Prince (b/k/a Will Smith) was joined by latest protege, Toronto, Ontario’s Ayah, who will release her second free project, Back For More, on July 12.
In a segment of the discussion, Jeff spoke about an upcoming tape with DXnext alum Mac Miller, a Pittsburgh emcee, who is known for promoting simple fun in his raps – with a deep appreciation for the early ’90s Hip Hop that was created by Jeff and his peers. The turntable master (and Ayah) chimed in on Mac’s appeal, and explained how other icons are getting hip to the game.
HipHopDX: Your generation to me are the torch passers. Not that you’re giving it up but you can say to kids, my age and younger, alright you’re a part of this hip-hop thing whether you’re an artist, a DJ, a producer, whatever it is and Mac (Miller) is an interesting guy because here he is, he’s not claiming to be from the streets. Talk about what he’s doing, as a legend Jeff, say “You know what, I can get behind what this kid’s about.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff: Well you know what’s funny is, I kind of go into the whole 20-year cycle that when everyone was going crazy off of the Electro music all that was to me was the ’80s reincarnated. And what comes after the ’80s is the ’90s. I think the thing that really caught me attention was off of the “Kool-Aid and Frozen Pizza” that he did off of the Lord Finesse [“Hip 2 Da Game”] beat and it was just something off of the throwback era of the ’90s and you got this 19-year-old kid spitting on it that’s doing the song justice and it caught my attention, which made me call someone like DJ Premier and put him onto it and it caught his attention and me just reaching out and giving a thumbs up like, “Yo this is hot.” [Mac Miller contacted me and] was just kind of like, “Yo I’m a huge fan, would love to do something, I’ve got an idea to piece together this ’90s Hip Hop mixtape that I would love to have you a part of it,” and that’s pretty much how that all came along. And what I gave to Premier and the other guys was like you know we’re blessed enough to be around to watch this cycle come around to our hey-day. So how dope would it be for us to help this new generation. If the new thing is ’90s Hip Hop, why not get a ’90s Hip Hop legend to help you do it. So it’s crazy because it’s a full cycle.
At the end of the day, you always have to be a student of this game you can never ever think that you know everything and you’ve got everything under control so I picked his brain just as much as he picked mine because he knows what’s going on now. He knows the people, he knows the marketplace so it was definitely a lesson with him actually the funny thing is the song that I did with him for this project, Ayah is on.
DX: Can you speak about that Ayah?
Ayah: Yeah Mac [Miller] was in the studio. Mac’s really cool, great energy and he kind of had an idea of what he wanted to do and he had been working on it with Jeff for a couple of minutes before I came down and it was an instant click and it was real easy to do. The ideas were there, the vibes were there and the rest just kind of happened it was a cool thing.
DX: Do you see a parallel from the fun be yourself music that you made 20 years ago to what Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y are doing right now?
DJ Jazzy Jeff: Absolutely, I mean the older that you become that everything that your parents told you about everything goes in cycles comes to fruition. All it is is this is what me and Will did and that is one of the reasons I gravitated to Mac is Mac to me is a young Will [Smith]. He wants to have fun, he has a great time with his music, he’s 19 years old and living life to the fullest, which I think is great for music.