‘I Learned It Is Possible to Do More Than One Thing’: DJ Jazzy Jeff Says He Initially Thought Appearing on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Would End His Music Career

It’s hard to imagine watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” without any hilarious appearances from Will Smith’s best friend Jazz, played by DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Now, imagine if those iconic scenes of Jazz being thrown out of Uncle Phil’s home did not exist. Well, that’s exactly what would have happened if Smith hadn’t been persistent about getting Jazz on the beloved ’90s series.

Jeff recently told AllHipHop that he initially didn’t care to do the show and even declined the role. 

DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith. (Photo: Instagram/@willsmith)

“At first, I said no.” I wasn’t terrified,” he recalled. “I wasn’t excited. I just didn’t have any desire.”

The West Philadelphia native has been spinning records and mixing turntables at parties since he was 10. He feared that acting would get away from his music career but learned a lesson after taking the opportunity. 

“I learned it is possible to do more than one thing. I think I was so hellbent on my music that I never looked at, ‘Yeah, I could do this too.’ I never thought it could potentially help my music like it did,” Jeff told the outlet.

Related: Jazzy Jeff Recalls Creating Scene Where He’s Tossed Out ‘The Fresh Prince’ House

“I felt like when I was asked to do the TV show, the way it came into my head was like, ‘You’re telling me to stop doing music and go do this?’ That was my reason for saying no.”

Further explaining, the Grammy-winning artist claimed it was unheard of in those times for celebrities to be successful at doing multiple things like music and acting at the same time. 

“Ironically, at that point in time, everybody in the industry thought you could only do one thing. Will was the first rapper/actor. People criticized him when he first started acting and not because of his work,” he stated. “They criticized him because they didn’t think that you could do more than one thing. Now you look up and it’s LL COOL J, Ice-T, Queen Latifah and Ice Cube.

“But in the beginning, I don’t think I was the only one that approached it the way I did. So I said I wasn’t interested,” he added.

The 58-year-old said he changed his mind after some encouragement from his former DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince group member.

Referring to the “Men In Black” actor as a “good salesman,” Jazz said Smith was able to change his perspective by explaining that he wouldn’t have to be on the show often and could even stop if he didn’t like the role.

“He sold me on the fact that they wanted me to do three episodes. And he said, ‘Listen, man, if you do one and you love it, you got two more to look forward to. And if you hate it, you only got two to do.’ So I was like, ‘OK.’ And I ended up doing nine episodes in the first season.”

Jeff added, “I wasn’t out there trying to act. I was just like give me some lines, I’m gonna read them and people will laugh.”

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” ran for six seasons before it ended in 1996. The series offered an outstanding cast, comedy, and a theme song that thousands of people still know and sing today.

“‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song was made in 15 minutes,” Jeff told AfroTech. “And it was made because I did not think this was going to be the theme song. They needed music to go in this place, almost as a holder. So Will and I went in the studio and we created something, and we gave it to them.”

Reruns have not stopped playing over the years on different networks, and the cast got together for an iconic reunion special for HBO Max in November 2020. The Emmy-nominated also has a dramatic reboot currently airing on Peacock, “Bel-Air.” 

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