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He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper

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Album Review

This is the album on which DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince hit commercial pay dirt, the album that introduced the duo's jokey, benign, and somewhat goofball demeanor to a wide audience. Without He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, in fact, it could be argued that you never would have had Will Smith: Movie Star, as the album afforded him a level and type of exposure he would never thereafter relinquish. Oddly enough, it is DJ Jazzy Jeff who generally was cited as the musical star of the duo, at least in the rap community, on account of his groundbreaking and always-wizardly work on the turntables. That skill is evident ("D.J. on the Wheels"), but often takes a backseat here in deference to the Fresh Prince's whimsical story-songs. To be frank, Smith's rhymes and antics can become rather, well, hokey, like Slick Rick with an antiseptic tongue, but they are always good-natured and good fun, admirable qualities in themselves considering rap's growing inclination at the time to drift toward the hardcore and polemical sides of the street. He's the DJ is almost cartoon-like by comparison. Painfully corny music videos for the hit singles "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Nightmare on My Street" underscored the impression to an even greater extent. The reality, though, is slightly more interesting than the caricature. There are songs here ("Brand New Funk," "Pump Up the Bass," the title track) that go straight to the heart of hip-hop's traditional role as sweaty house-party soundtrack and which highlight a more "street" facet of the duo. Still, this is not a consequential album. It is an extremely likable one, however, with a youthful vigor, animateness, and a spirited sense of humor undiminished by the ensuing decades. Compared with some of the strains of rap that were to follow, which often mistook sarcasm or irony for drollery, He's the DJ seems a quaint, practically naïve artifact of an era before bling-bling and Benzes became the norm.

Customer Reviews

Nightmare on My Street - edited

The edits to this song applies to the Nightmare on My Street song that aren't that way on the cassette. (Old school I know, but still)

After: Then we dipped to the theater set to ill

Missing is:
Buggin' cold havin' a ball
And somethin' about Elm St. was the movie we saw
The way it started was decent you know nuthin' real fancy
About this homeboy named Fred and this girl named Nancy

But word when it was over, I said yo that was def
replaced with: We saw Elm Street and man it was def

After "your face is all burnt"

All of this is missing as well:
Fred got mad and his head started steaming
But I've thought what the hell I'm only dreamin'
I said please leave Fred so I can get some sleep
But give me a call maybe we'll hang out next week

I was hoping I'd get the orginal version DLing it from this album, but it's still editted.

Great album, but anyone that had the cassette will feel jipped when they sing words that are no longer there.

Radio Edit??

I remember buying the "I'm the Rapper and He's the DJ" cassette way back when I was a kid (my first album) and wowing my friends with the full rendition "Nightmare On My Street."

Sadly, that was so long ago that I've since parted with the cassette and no longer have the opportunity to listen to The Fresh Prince building up a crowd by commanding everyone with AIDS to "be quiet!"

Will there ever be the actual album for sale on iTunes or are we all just left with a revisionist history full of partial songs and radio edits?

This album was a great part of my childhood and I would have gladly purchased it for nostalgic sentimentality but since this has been hacked to oblivion, I prefer keeping my memories intact and will remain waiting for a release of the REAL album on here before parting with any money.

a carefree, classic hip hop party

the song left off the album is the live track in which smith riles up the crowd by telling "all the homeboys that got AIDS" to "be quiet." The crowd erupts. Certainly, these were different times and I have no doubt smith has apologized a thousand times over, but let it be known that that's likely the reason for the partial album.


Formed: 1986 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

To many present-day listeners, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince are best-remembered for launching the superstar music/acting career of the latter, now known by his real name of Will Smith. In their heyday, however, the Philadelphia duo played a major role in making rap music accessible to pop audiences, as well as younger listeners. Smith's raps were never anything more than PG-rated, and his genial, winning personality came through in the good-humored stories that many of his best raps wove. His...
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He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
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