Top 5 Jazzy Jeff Routines | Features | MN2S

DJ Jazzy Jeff is one of the greatest turntablists of all time. In celebration of the upcoming MN2S Presents: DJ Jazzy Jeff & Kenny Dope at ADE, We celebrate his five best scratching routines that earned him his place in the pantheon of DJs.

This month DJ Jazzy Jeff will put his talents on display at MN2S Presents: DJ Jazzy Jeff & Kenny Dope at ADE. Buy tickets here.

If there is any one DJ who best proves the turntable is an instrument is its own right it’s DJ Jazzy Jeff. Jeff put in years of work to hone his turntable talent, manning the booth for Will Smith as half of beloved duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and travelling the globe performing enthralling DJ sets for electro and hip hop fans worldwide. Here are five of the most magnificent short routines that prove DJ Jazzy Jeff is technically and sonically one of the greatest of all time.

1. Peter Piper

DJ Jazzy Jeff debuted the Peter Piper routine for Serato in March last year. The routine is based around the Run DMC song, with the MCs’ acapella vocals taking the fore in the beginning before Jeff scratches a synth stab into oblivion, creating an entirely new rhythm. The vocals and instrumental combine as the DJ drops in moments of the original drumbeat, finally ending on the very appropriate vocal, “God damn, that DJ made my day.”

DJ Jazzy Jeff composed the routine to show off the capabilities of his current gear rig, which includes a Serato DJ controller, which has never been used so well.

2. Rock the Bells

One of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s best known routines, Rock the Bells has become almost as much of a trademark for the DJ as his own back catalogue as a recording artist. Unlike Peter Piper, it is hard to come by a professionally recorded clip of Rock the Bells. We found several fan recordings of the routine on YouTube (which we have embedded here), but to truly experience it it is best to see Jeff live.

The Rock the Bells routine is the definitive way to play the LL Cool J track as a DJ. Similar to the Peter Piper routine, Rock the Bells starts with LL’s a cappella vocals, chopped up by Jeff’s masterful mixing. After that, the DJ juggles and scratches a guitar chord to create a funky beat of his own making.

As you can see from the three versions of the routine embedded here (that final one featuring fellow MN2S artist DJ Scratch), DJ Jazzy Jeff’s routines are as flexible as a hot vinyl disc. He is known to mix up routines as much as he mixes tracks, creating a truly fresh experience for each performance. This is the true evidence that the turntable can be played with just as much creativity and improvisation as any other instrument.

3. The Next Episode

DJ Jazzy Jeff’s The Next Episode routine is a masterclass in building suspense. Based around the moody horn section intro from the Snoop & Dre classic, Jeff’s routine stretches out the dramatic opening chords of the tune as long as possible, juggling back and forth to do so, giving the moment the beat drops even more power.

Captured from a performance in Slovenia in 2011, this version of the routine incorporates even more of the original instrumental sampled on the Snoop Dogg classic, proving that Jeff can always put a fresh spin on his own fresh spins.

4. Billy Jean

Debuted as early as 2006, DJ Jazzy Jeff’s remix of Michael Jackson’s classic tune is a real crowd pleaser. The DJ takes what is already one of the most indisputably funky bass lines of all time and extends it, bounces it back and forth and takes it to a new level. This very short scratch routine is here followed by a live remixed version of the whole track, which blends perfectly into another MJ classic: ‘Rock with You’.

5. Live from Union Square

An infamous bootleg recording, released unofficially in 1986 on Mr Magic’s Rap Attack label, Live from Union Square captures a legendary moment on tape: a DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince performance from the duo’s earliest days. At the time of the recording, fresh-faced MC Will Smith is just 17 years old, and he goes to extreme lengths to boast to the audience about just how great his DJ is.

It is evident from Jeff’s turntable pyrotechnics that he could deliver the goods from an early age. The DJ juggles and scratches various funky records in a blistering display of mixing ability. Though more of a freewheeling sonic journey than a carefully potted routine, Live from Union Square features one of the first prominent uses of the Transformer scratch which DJ Jazzy Jeff would popularise.

Always innovating and never failing to combine technical knowhow with musical intuition, DJ Jazzy Jeff will headline MN2S’s ADE showcase on October 21st at Sugarfactory. Book tickets now to make sure you don’t miss out.

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