DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince managed to be both fun and influential at the same time. Their breezy mix of lighthearted raps and pop-music hooks made listeners of all kinds smile with its tasty combination of humor and groove. Their friendly, likeable sound caught on quickly with mainstream audiences and thus made them the first artists to tap into the pop-chart potential of hip-hop music.
This duo began when 'The Fresh Prince' Will Smith and DJ 'Jazzy' Jeff Townes performed together at a house party in their native Philadelphia in 1986. The enthusiastic reception they got as a team inspired them to collaborate on a more permanent basis. When they won the Battle of the Bands at a New Music Seminar, they also won a recording contract. Their first single, "Girls Are Nothing But Trouble," set the tone for their career with lighthearted lyrics, clever choice of sample (taken from the I Dream Of Jeannie theme song) and its inspired blend of rap style and pop-music catchiness.
"Girls Are Nothing But Trouble" touched on universal teen concerns and thus struck a chord with both pop and rap audiences. It became a crossover smash and its success helped their debut album, Rock The House, become a hit. They did even better with their second album, He's the DJ, I'm The Rapper. "Parents Just Don't Understand," a satirical but lighthearted look at the generation gap, became a hit single from this album and earned DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince a Grammy award. Will Smith also became the star of the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air around this time.
D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince continued to score hits with "I Think I Could Beat Mike Tyson," a send-up of teen machismo, and its parent album And In This Corner. They landed a second Grammy award with 1991's "Summertime," a celebration of the titular season built on a sample from the Kool and the Gang classic "Summer Madness." this tune also gave the duo a Top-10 hit on the pop charts. They followed this success with Code Red, which featured a more r&b-oriented groove and a hit in "Boom! Shake The Room." After this album, the Prince and Jeff split up to pursue other interests.
The two remained friends and have moved on to continued success in the music business. Jazzy Jeff formed a production group call Touch of Jazz, Inc., and continues to use his studio skills on hip-hop projects. Will Smith has moved on to phenomenal success as an actor with roles in films like Independence Day, Men In Black and Enemy Of The State. He has also continued his musical success as a solo artist, often supplying hit songs for his films (case in point: "Men In Black"). Just the same, their work as a team will always be remembered for their unique blend of hip-hop sounds and pop-music fun.