Jazzy Jeff's price of fame: nothing lasts forever
Mon 11th Oct, 2004 Newsin
Hip hop pioneer turned mullti-million selling pop star Jazzy Jeff chatted to Skrufff this week about his upcoming house compilation for Defected Records and revealed that his success almost caused his downfall.
“I can tell you I had three million dollars in the bank at one point then two years later I literally had 30 dollars in the bank; it can happen,” said Jazzy.
“Things don’t last for ever, especially in this business and what you have to learn is how to live when everything is down, because if you learn to live and maintain yourself when everything is down, then it’s a cruise when you’re going up,” he advised.
The American producer and his childhood friend Will Smith teamed up to form Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince in the mid 80s, releasing worldwide hits including Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble and perennial radio smash Summertime, to make serious amounts of money.
“I was the first person in my family to ever make a million dollars, so I had no-one in my family to educate me about what to do with that million dollars,” he recalled.
“My spending sprees were crazy because they were spending sprees on equipment; I wasn’t thinking of having the big mansion on the hill I wanted the first cellphone, the first national pager. I’ve never been the guy saying I’m gonna’ buy a $25,000 watch, I’d rather buy a $25,000 television that can turn itself on and off- I’m a gadget fanatic. Will was somebody that wanted seven or eight cars whereas I was like ‘give me one car, but give me a $50,0000 sound system in this car that has everything you can ever imagine’.”
“It’s really hard because the people that are trying to give you advice have never gone through what you’re going through and you don’t have someone to fall back on,’ he continued.
“And that’s where a lot of African American entertainers really need, a role model that can give you really true and honest advice. Someone that can tell you, ‘hey man, you need to pay your taxes’.”
Coming back down to Earth when he lost his first millions, the Philadelphia star said dealing with others’ expectations was harder than losing the cash.
“You have a million feelings inside you because what you’re perceived as isn’t what you are,” he explained. “So you can walk into the fanciest restaurant in the world and they want to give you food for free, not realising that you may not have the money to pay for it.
“It’s OK to be playing that role but when you get up in the morning and you’re washing your face you’re thinking ‘Yo what kind of life am I leading, what happens when something happens and I’m not going to be able to cover it?
When you’re looking in the mirror and you’re one on one with yourself, that’s when you have to answer those questions. Then you’re worried about how people will look at you if they find out you don’t have this or that. I’ve seen a lot of entertainers not know how to deal with that situation.”
Jazzy nowadays runs his own highly successful label and studio complex A Touch Of Jazz and continues to record with Will Smith on new material. He’s also just mixed his first ever house music compilation for Defected Records (‘Soulheaven presents Jazzy Jeff In the House’) which comes out on November 1