DJ Jazzy Jeff on “Summertime”


DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s classic 1991 single “Summertime” has become a staple of the season. Jeff revealed that the duo never expected the song to become a contemporary standard and how he told Will Smith to tone down his normal ‘hyper’ delivery and persona for the record.

“Every year, Will and I are waiting for this record to die,” he said. “Not in a bad way, but just like, you didn’t think that this song was going to be like this. We knew it was a great record and thought people might play it every once in a blue moon, but not every summer. It’s almost like this song is the launch of peoples’ summer.”

“That’s one of the only records we made that makes me feel exactly the same as I did the day it came out,” Jeff added. “Everything was captured so perfectly. When Will’s talking about little kids playing in the water plug, I go immediately back to my childhood to a fire hydrant in West Philly. That’s how we grew up, but not realizing that everybody has some version of what summertime meant to them.”

Jeff also addressed the long-standing rumor that Rakim ghostwrote the song for Smith.

“He had absolutely nothing to do with it. When Will did ‘Summertime,’ I remember telling him, ‘Don’t say your name.’ If Vanilla Ice would’ve made ‘Summertime’ and didn’t say his name, you could not dismiss that you like this song,” he continued. “If he had said his name in the beginning, there’d be people who would’ve just turned it off or dismissed it. Will was always very hyper and I told him, ‘Bring it back. Vibe with it.’ And when he did that, everyone was like, ‘Wow. He sounds like Rakim.’ From the first day we played the record for people, they thought it was Rakim. When we first released it, everyone was like, ‘Did you hear that new song that Rakim did?’”

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