The accomplishments of DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Philadelphia-born Jeff Townes, predate and extend far beyond his multi-platinum, Grammy-winning partnership with Will Smith. Revered for his party-rocking skills, which he began to develop as a youngster in his parents' basement, and acknowledged as a pioneer for his development of the transformer scratch, Townes has also worked in studios since 1985, when he provided uncredited scratching on tracks by Korner Boyz and Cazal Boys. A few years into his subsequent alliance with Smith as DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Townes founded a production house called A Touch of Jazz, named after his early turntablism classic off 1987's Rock the House. Among its early successes was the theme for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the sitcom on which Townes acted as the sidekick to Smith's lead character (to the comic annoyance of James Avery's Uncle Phil).
After the final DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince album, 1993's Code Red, Townes assisted Smith's solo material and worked on recordings by several other rap and R&B artists. Most notably, he served as executive producer of Jill Scott's Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, a Top 20 Billboard 200 hit that led to a handful of Grammy nominations and a double-platinum RIAA certification. Townes' proper solo debut, The Magnificent, followed in 2002 with Scott, Eric Roberson, and Freddie Foxx among the guest stars. Although a sequel, The Return of the Magnificent, arrived five years later, Townes was much more active on other fronts, such as on official mixes (In the House, Hip Hop Forever II, Hip Hop Forever III), a series of mixtapes (Summertime, with Mick Boogie), production work (as the facilitator of the Playlist), and global touring as a club DJ. ~ Andy Kellman