Chicago, IL

DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince was one of Hip Hop’s most colorful duos in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Their musical chemistry translated to on-screen chemistry when they were both cast in the beloved ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, solidifying their friendship even further.

Over 30 years later, the two are still close friends and support each other’s various endeavors, including the Peacock series Bel-Air. 

So it comes as no surprise DJ Jazzy Jeff is in Smith’s corner following the “slap heard around the world.” During a recent Closed Sessions Legend Conversation at Dorian’s Through the Record Shop in Chicago, the revered turntablist broached the delicate topic. While he defended his partner-in-rhyme, he also noted it was out of character for the Academy Award-winning actor.

“Don’t get it twisted that it was something he was proud of,” Jazzy Jeff said. “It was a lapse in judgment, you know? I think the thing that I’ve realized is I don’t know too many people that has had the least amount of lapse of judgment than him.

“I can name 50 times that [Smith] should’ve smacked the shit out of somebody and he didn’t. So for him to have a lapse in judgment, he’s human. And I think a lot of the criticism comes from the people who don’t think people like that are human.”

The infamous smackdown took place on March 27 during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles where Smith calmly walked up to Chris Rock — who was onstage introducing the Best Documentary category — and slapped him across the face for making a G.I. Jane joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett.

Consequently, Smith was banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years (although he can still be nominated) following a public apology and his resignation from the Academy.

Chris Rock Will Speak On Will Smith Oscars Slap — On One Condition

Smith won an Oscar in the Best Actor in Leading role category for his role in King Richard just moments after the assault. During his emotional acceptance speech, he talked about being a “fierce defender of his family” — much like the film’s protagonist Richard Williams — but never apologized to Rock. Meanwhile, Rock refuses to talk about the incident unless he’s getting “paid.”

Revisit Smith’s Oscars speech below.