Here’s a little story all about how one man rose to fame in the shadow of a prince — a fresh prince, to be exact.
Once upon a time in the early ’90s, DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeff Townes) began his melodic journey in the faraway kingdom of west Philadelphia, where he aimed to slay the hip-hop game. From his rise to stardom on ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to handfuls of world tours and successful mixtapes, Townes has created his own happily ever after.
At age 12, Townes mixed samples from ’80s hip-hop greats in his neighborhood. By his late teens, he and fellow Philly boy Will Smith collaborated to make the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. The duo’s early career came and went like a shooting star, but both Smith and Townes gained a second wind on their path to stardom by landing two lead roles in the hit NBC series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (cue the show’s opening beats and absurd ’90s cinematography).
The show ended in 1996, which allowed Townes to branch off and further his solo career by collaborating and mixing both with big names like Eminem and young, independent artists from his home city.
A few years into his solo career, he put his money into his Philadelphia-based production company, A Touch of Jazz, which has helped dozens of starting rappers gain otherwise inaccessible studio time. In between his work with up-and-coming artists, Townes is gearing up for yet another world tour.
It looks like his fairy tale isn’t over yet.
DJ Jazzy Jeff plays 9 pm Wednesday, March 7, at Hi-Fi Music Hall; $25 advance, $30 day of. 21 and up.