July 13, 2006

CD Review: The Very Best of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

It has been a long time since I have listened to any of these old tracks. They sound a little bit dated now, but they still have so much positive energy in them. This 14 song collection is so much fun to listen to. These two have come a long way since those early days. I never would have thought that the Fresh Prince would drop that moniker in favor of his real name, Will Smith, and go on to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Let's take a little trip down memory lane.

In the 1980s Jeff and the Prince brought hip hop to suburbia. They never fell in with the hardcore or gangsta rappers, preferring to deliver a more positive spin on the music. In doing so, they were invited into more homes across the country than any other rappers of the day. I am not positive of that, but they are one of the only hip hop names that I really remember from those days of my youth.

This collection covers all of their albums, right up through Code Red, which I don't really remember anyone buying. Listening to these songs, it is easy to see why they became so popular. Their lyrics were relatable by the youth of America, and they had fun beats. More than that, this duo are incredibly talented. D.J. Jazzy Jeff is a great on the turntables, listen to him on tracks like "The Magnificient Jazzy Jeff" and "The Groove (Jazzy's Groove)," both on this disk, which showcase his abilities. Then we have the Fresh Prince, a charismatic personality, even at this young age, a smooth playful style on the mic, he just flat out holds your attention.

We open up with "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" which was their first hit and includes the playful use of a sample from "I Dream of Jeannie." A couple of tracks later is the huge hit "Parents Just Don't Understand," a fun track for the kids who didn't think their parents related. That one also earned them the very first rap Grammy in 1988. That is followed by one of my favorites, "A Nightmare on My Street," complete with a sample of the A Nightmare on My Street and a cameo from Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.

Other highlights include "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson," kind of funny listening to this now, after all that the former boxing champ has been through over the years. Not to be forgotten is the huge feel good summer anthem, "Summertime," I remember this one, it seemed to launch the two back to the top of the charts, and debuted a more mature sound.

Closing out the album are a couple of my favorite tracks from Code Red, yes I am one of those that bought this one. First is the party anthem "Boom! Shake the Room," a fun, loud party track. Then to close the disk is the old school "I Wanna Rock," this showcases Jeff's DJ skills, and the playful interaction that the two always had.

Bottomline. This is a fun walk down memory lane. Despite the slightly aged feeling of the songs, the talent still shines through. This is just a flat out fun collection of songs that you can just really enjoy. For someone, like me, who never got those early albums, this is the perfect disk to get them in your collection.

Recommended.
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