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
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).