DJ Jazzy Jeff in Dubai

The hip-hop legend is back at Barasti on Friday October 31

Interview, Hot seat

The hip-hop legend is back in Dubai on Friday October 31 for a Halloween gig. Here, he shares the secrets to his success.

1. Start small, aim big
‘The idea of a DJ is to play to as many people as possible and make your fan base 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. For me, it went from a five-block radius in west Philly to the whole of the East Coast, then the world.’

2. Pick a sensible DJ name
‘I used to go by 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 the successful TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That has transcended generations and has 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 asks, “Why are you wearing stuff that you wore when you lived here?” And I just say, “But mom, this is popular right now!”’

5. For goodness sake, get some sleep
‘You need to get rest when you can – even if it’s just 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 just a
few days.’

6. Never take requests. Ever.
‘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!’
Jazzy Jeff Live. Midnight-3am. October 31. Barasti Beach Bar, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Dubai Marina (04 399 2313).

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