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wraggster
December 1st, 2005, 21:01
Jeffrey Townes is best known to the wider world through his partnership with Will Smith, which saw DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince release such radio pleasers as Summertime and Boom! Shake The Room! in the early '90s. But Jazzy is also revered as one of the original pioneers of DJ scratching, as well as being one of the greatest producers in the hip hop industry. And, as we found out at an Xbox Live event, his gaming knowledge isn't too shabby either...
The following interview originally appeared in Xbox 360: The Official Xbox Magazine, issue #02. It was conducted just prior to Xbox 360's launch in North America.

I see you certainly know you way around the racetrack in Forza Motorsport. Are you heavily into your videogames?
Jazzy Jeff: Well, don't tell anybody, but I've actually played this game before. I've already got an Xbox, and I can't wait to get my hands on the new Xbox 360. It'll be another one to add to the collection. I have been playing games for a long time now, but I'm especially a big, BIG fan of the sports titles. The likes of Madden and NBA...

Your collection? What exactly are we talking about here?

Jazzy Jeff: Oh, everything, man. Anything to do with technology. Recently I bought a new laptop to take around with me when I'm touring.

So is that the last gadget you bought for your collection?

Jazzy Jeff: No, the last thing was a digital camera. It's great - got a lot of options on it.

So what's your impression of Xbox Live?

Jazzy Jeff: Man, I'm completely blown away by it. I mean, being able to play anyone in world anytime, any place? That's just amazing. You used to have to get some friends round, and get them all staring at the one screen... but this really opens up the experience. You don't have to be waiting for people to come round if you want to be playing people. It's great being able to just pick up a pad and start playing.

Well, since I gave you that Xbox 360 to be photographed with, you haven't let go of it. You seem pretty fired up about getting your hands on one of your own.

Jazzy Jeff: I certainly am. I've been hearing a lot about it - the games are something I can't wait to get my hands on. As I said before, I'm a sports game guy. I'm looking forward to the new NBA game; I cannot wait for that. They've got this sweat physics engine on it; it looks just the real thing, man! I need it today. I need it when it comes out, first day.

You need sweat? Okay... Anyway, have you got your home system set up already?

Jazzy Jeff: Oh, I have indeed. I need to play this thing [lifts up the Xbox 360] at the best quality; I need it with the bells and the whistles. I just bought a 100-inch TV screen and a whole new surround system so I can sit and play it. I got it all, except the console. All I need is this thing to complete the puzzle.

Well, you haven't got too long to wait now. Guess the very first thing you'll be loading is the new NBA?

Jazzy Jeff: Yes, sir. The realism on this new one, I love that. The realism and the gameplay combined...? I'll be picking up all the sports games soon as they're out. I'm loving the Madden, the NHL, I need these games! This whole new generation of gaming is fantastic. I was a big Xbox fan, and with this new generation... I can't wait, I can't wait.

A lot of the sports games have licensed soundtracks. Has your production company, A Touch Of Jazz, been approached to contribute music to a videogame?

Jazzy Jeff: Well, yeah! But you know, it's the timing at the moment. I've just pulled my studio down... my old studio... and moved to a new place. So at the moment I'm trying to do everything, I'm trying... but what I want is for you to hear a ton of Jazzy Jeff stuff on all of the games coming up.

As you know, you can rip music onto your Xbox 360 hard drive. Are there any choice tunes you've got lined up to put on your new machine?

Jazzy Jeff: Well, I can tell you it's going to be good music for a start. But it's really going to depend on what I'm playing at the time, because I want the music to accent what I'm playing at that moment. So I'll have a particular set of tunes picked for all my sports games. But if I'm going to be able do that... oh man, this is going to be great.

Being from a background heavily invested in hip hop, what are your impressions of the genre as it is today?

Jazzy Jeff: I think hip hop has got so wide and so broad now that it represents all genres. Hip hop really started out as black music, a way of expression, DJ cutting breaks and Mcs rhyming. But for it to grow to something worldwide is amazing.

How do you think the scene has changed over the years?

Jazzy Jeff: I guess the biggest thing is the upheaval. I would never have thought that two turntables and a mixer and playing hip hop to people would grow so big. And to watch that grow from its infancy stage to what it is now, well, it's just incredible.

So what is next on the agenda for Jazzy Jeff? Obviously apart from trying to win the NBA season...

Jazzy Jeff: Well, I'm going to take off in December for about five or six months and try to make about three or four new records. I've just built a brand new recording studio so I've really got a lot to do... I'll probably turn into a bit of a mad scientist, sitting in the studio, playing my new Xbox 360 games between the recording sessions.

JAZZY JEFF ASKS US...

Jazzy Jeff proves that he really is a master when it comes to turning the tables...

Jazzy: So what music are you going to be putting onto your Xbox 360? If you don't mind me saying, you don't look like you'll be putting on any hip hop tunes...

Us: You'd be surprised actually. I'm the same as you; I'd rip music that would fi t into the game I'm playing at that moment in time. I don't think a round of golf in Tiger Woods 2006 would benefi t from a heavy metal soundtrack!

Jazzy: Well, you've heard me talking about the new NBA game, so how about you? What you going to be picking up?

Us: NHL 2K6 is definitely on there. I wish there was a mode on there to play with the UK League. I'm sure the Belfast Giants could win the Championship trophy if I was in control! Also, I need some green pixie action, so Kameo will be on the list.

Jazzy: Any music packages coming out for Xbox 360? Maybe a turntable add-on?

Us: There's one built into it, Neon, which allows to you experiment with the music you're listening to in real time. After that? I'm sure there's a market for it already. Look at Dance Dance Revolution etc. I'd say this time next year there'll be some package that'll let you get creative.