DJ Jazzy Jeff

The Return of the Magnificent (BBE/Rapster)

DJ Jazzy Jeff was going on award tours and making prime-time television cameos long before hip-hop music was connected to the mainstream. Although many rap artists from the '80s have either graduated to celebrity status or become the subject of barbershop discussions, Jazzy Jeff, born as Jeff Townes, has managed to stay relevant as both a fresh producer and globe-trotting DJ. What's scary is that he's only getting better with age. Five years after dropping his first installment, The Magnificent, in 2002, his latest gem, Return of the Magnificent, features a similar formula with Jazzy Jeff's versatile beats providing a backdrop for an all-star lineup of true-school MCs from Big Daddy Kane to CL Smooth. On the production side, Jeff combines head-nodding percussion and his signature scratching on "Let Me Hear You Clap," featuring Posdnous of De La Soul. He also resamples classic hip-hop anthems and gives them a 007 update as he ego-trips with the gully female wordsmith Jean Grae on "Supa Jean," then chips in his words on "Jeff N Fess" with Chi-town's Rhymefest, and ends the party properly with the album's last track, "Brand New Funk 2k7" as Peedi Peedi's rapid-fire flow more than takes up the slack for the Fresh Prince. R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn lends his smooth vocals to the cut "My Soul Ain't for Sale," but the real standout has to be "Practice," featuring J-Live, who gives a necessary three-verse lesson on how to survive as a rapper in the industry today with assistance from a familiar NBA player on the chorus. For hip-hop heads of any generation, this album should be in your collection.

 
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