Published Jan 01, 2006Jeff Townes' stage name could very well be one of the largest household DJ names in the world. Along with Will Smith rocking the mic, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince helped bring hip-hop to the suburbs through gigantic media exposure and a network television series. The pair unfortunately lost a great deal of musical credibility in the process, so some people might be a little weary of Jazzy Jeff's first solo record, The Magnificent. "I have absolutely no expectations for this record," admits Townes, who has pieced together a solid journey of underground hip-hop beats and soul vibes. "And it's not me being unappreciative. If someone asks you to come up with songs that make up you as a person and then giving them out for was real scary for me to have any expectations."
For the heads out there that know DJ Jazzy Jeff runs much deeper than "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson" it should come to no surprise that Townes originally recorded tracks for Columbia Records with heavyweights such as Common, De La Soul and Eminem when assembling his first solo effort. "I was trying to be creatively free and Columbia was kind of like, Well we want something that can be for the radio.' It wasn't the right match and I kind of scrapped the whole project. So when I came in to do this one I started from scratch and did what I felt." This determination to create something for himself rather than the commercial aspect of recording is what lead to such an exceptional outing for the veteran producer. "That's pretty much unheard of," he admits when discussing his musical freedom in the studio. "And it was probably the most liberating thing musically that I've ever had to do aside from DJing. It's weird because now that you're done you go back to the world of people wanting a number one song and I wonder how I'm going to go back into the studio with all these restraints on me."
With a handful of MCs (including the amazing J-Live) laying their lyrics on top of skilfully placed beats, Townes' is satisfying the hunger of fans who knew the Philadelphia producer was capable of creating a true and honest hip-hop record. "The industry does not accept you doing more than one thing," explains Townes with his multi-layered approach to shaping music. "It's really hard for people to accept that the same guy who did a Will Smith record did a Jill Scott record. That's why I sort of kept low-key and under the radar because I love music and don't ever want to be pigeonholed." Towne's looks to his own A Touch of Jazz record label and the process they create tracks, effortlessly and creatively, as a shining light of more projects like The Magnificent in the future. "And that's why I'm keeping my fingers crossed," says Townes. "Because if people like this record then we can do good music all day long."