14 May, 2007@12:00 am
In a phone conversation at the end of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s The Return Of The Magnificent, Jeff calls his good ol’ buddy The Fresh Prince (after jumping through numerous hoops and guard dogs to finally get his former partner - now $20 million per film man – on the horn) and asks, “Let me ask you a question…do people ever ask you where’s Jazzy Jeff at?” Will Smith ponders the question “Ummmmm….uh uh….I mean like….let me see….uh uh….pretty much like….nah.” Smith continues, “I mean sometimes they’ll be like ‘Yo Yo! Where’s Carlton?’ Or sometimes ‘Hey! Where’s Jada???” A seemingly distraught Jazzy Jeff bids his friend adieu and hangs up the phone.
Whether this skit was meant to poke jest at the situation or not, we’ll never know. But the sad thing is that even though DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were the first rap act to win a Grammy and make numerous jams that many of us grew up to, the more musically gifted of the two has been reduced to a footnote in megastar Smith’s lifeline. Maybe one day Jazzy Jeff will get his due as an incredible DJ and producer but until then Jeffery Townes will continue making the music he likes as he follows up 2002′s The Magnificent with the aptly titled The Return Of The Magnificent.
So the question is posed, is DJ Jazzy Jeff still relevant? For those who have followed his numerous gigs and heard his previous work, the answer is an easy yes. But as solid as The Return Of The Magnificent is, it just barely misses the mark.
When Jeff is at his best, he?s making marvelous music. The J-Live powered “Practice” features the infamous vocal clip of Allen Iverson questioning the importance of practice at a press conference as J-Live clocks in with his steadily underrated flow and does the smoothed out track much justice. Native Tongue alumni and 1/3 of De La Soul, Posdnuos, breezes effortlessly thru fluffy keys with slick wordplay on “Let Me Hear You Clap”. Elsewhere, Chi-town’s Rhymefest wastes no time making short work of the scatting drums on “Jeff N Fess”. It seems like every time a strong presence snatches the mic, Jeff makes sure that the beat accompanies them perfectly.
There are a few underwhelming moments that would cause the listener to beg Jeff to deliver a better backdrop. “Supa Jean” is nothing but Jean Grae recounting the club scene with tongue- in-cheek humor, but the same chops that are present on classics like “Potholes In My Lawn” don’t lend the track enough individuality. Seeing Big Daddy Kane may set many a Hip Hop purist’s hearts fluttering, but the super soft beat reminds off of that forgettable Playgirl posing Kane. “Touch Me Wit Ur Hands” is an effort for some R&B featuring Chinah Blac, but the track sounds way too much like Floetry’s “Say Yes” that it just can’t be taken seriously.
There are many more good moments than bad, but The Return Of The Magnificent leaves you with a sort of empty feeling. Yeah, it’s good. But we expect more out of Jeff. It’s probably unfair because had this been DJ New-Guy we’d be turning a blind eye to some of the mistakes. But it’s not DJ New-Guy, it’s the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. This album is good, very good. But dammit, we want more! ï»¿
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