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Back when hip hop music still looked fun (on a phat lace budget) and lacked the pompous posturing, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were its poster boys.
The 1980s duo wore pastel tees, kaleidoscopic jackets and cool kid caps while nodding kiddishly to the sweetly sung summer-summer-summer-tiiiiime on what looked like a sweltering hot day.
These days, Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes is cool as a fan whether he’s playing a DJ set halfway across the world, or slap-bang in the middle of a Wednesday morning in his house.
He is in his home town and base of Philadelphia when I phone him and sounds excited to be one of the international headliners of the Club Vibe relaunch.
For the uninitiated, from 1994 to 2002 Club Vibe was the go-to gig for late teens and young adults in Cape Town.
It was to dance lovers in the Mother City what Le Club was to the Joburg hip hop community.
Club Vibe is being relaunched at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on October 20.
While chuffed to be returning to SA, Jeff – who has released notable compilations such as The Magnificent and worked with upstarts like Mac Miller and Ayah – sounds more tickled when I ask him about his defining club experiences.
“There used to be a club called After Midnight in Philadelphia,” says the multi-Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer.
“Growing up, everyone would go there and we’d watch all these up-coming artists who came through.
“Actually,” he says, as if he’s just caught a thought about to escape his mind with his bare hands, “just the other day someone showed me a photo album of these artists who came to perform at After Midnight in those days.
“There were pictures of a young LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, and that’s something very important to me.”
For a moment, it sounds like he’s reliving that time, but I take him out of digging in the crates of his mind to pick his brain about music.
Seeing that his name came first when he used to perform with his longtime pal and actor-rapper, Will “The Fresh Prince” Smith, is he surprised at how the DJ has spun full circle and become a celebrity in his own right once again.
“I didn’t expect it to be as big as it is right now,” he confesses.
But what really grates his vinyls is when a celebrity suddenly decides that they, too, can be on the ones and twos.
“I’m not a big fan of that,” he says, emphasising the word “fan”, “because my problem with it is the level of disrespect that assumes my job is so easy that anyone can just pick it up.
“That’s like, without ever having played basketball at least in high school, if I walked up to Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls and told him I can be on his team.”
His voice calms and he continues: “But if you are serious about the DJ craft and you’re a celebrity, then I can respect that.”
Cognisant of the fact that his background might create the assumption that he’ll play only hip hop hits when in Cape Town, Jeff says: “I play everything, I don’t play genres as much as I play what makes people move.
“I don’t stray too far from hip hop, but I want to take people on a journey.”
• Catch DJ Jazzy Jeff alongside a host of other musicians at the Club Vibe re-launch at the CTICC on October 20. Tickets start at R250 and are available on www.quicket.co.za and from Mr Delivery.