Jazzy Jeff's DJ tips

Claim your territory, stay cool and don't forget to power nap – the hip hop don shares the secrets to his success



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Far more than just Will Smith’s TV sidekick, Jazzy Jeff is a hip hop legend with over 25 years’ experience of crowd-rocking behind him. Here he's rustled up six fresh hints for every aspiring DJ:

1. Start small, aim big

‘The idea of a DJ is to play to as many people as possible and make your fanbase grow – even if that means playing a party for free. If I played a party three blocks over and everybody in the neighbourhood came, then I would go six blocks over next time. It’s like playing Risk – it’s about claiming territories. It’s funny that for me, it went from a five-block radius in west Philly to the whole East Coast, then the world.’

2. Pick a sensible DJ name

‘I used to be Mixmaster Jeff. There was a place where you could pay to get your name put on a t-shirt but I couldn’t afford “Mixmaster Jeff” so I had to kind of narrow it down. A guy on my street had started calling me “Jazzy” anyway, so I stuck with it.’

3. Be comfortable with your big hits

‘I always say that it’s such a blessing to have a big song like ‘Sum­­mertime’ and a successful TV show that has transcended generations and stood the test of time. I play the theme tune every night when I DJ. When kids sing it and tell me how much of a part of their lives it is, I think: Wow, it’s great that you know it, but I actually made it for your parents.’

4. Stay snazzy (like Jazzy)

‘Seeing fashionable kids today wearing the stuff we used to wear in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" definitely shows we’ve survived a cycle of fashion. It’s funny because when I put on some of these new cool clothes and visit my mum, she says “Why are you wearing stuff that you wore when you lived here?” And I go “But mom, this is popular right now!”’

5. For heaven’s sake, get some sleep

© Brijesh Patel

‘You need to get rest when you can – even if it’s a 15-minute power nap in the car on the way to the airport. You are there to play for people and they don’t want to see that you’re tired. I always have to give this lesson when I bring new people out on the road with me. They are usually so excited about travelling that they hit the wall after a few days.’

6. Never take requests. Ever.

© Dopefish

‘No requests! Not at all. The experience is supposed to be the journey that you’re taking them on, not the journey that they want, y’know what I mean? If they want to make a request, I’m sure they can put a coin in the jukebox, or get out an iPad for that matter. Leave the requests at home!’

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