Just when you had DJ Jazzy Jeff pegged solely as a hip-hop maven, Groovin’ Records jettisons The Soul Mixtape chocked full of nu soul and R&B gems that will rattle your preconceived notions of his skills. But if you’ve been watching his career, you’d realize that this is no sudden move for the Philadelphia native.
From 1987 to 1993, Jeff along with childhood friend and superstar Will Smith were the groundbreaking hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. They successfully made the transition to television with six seasons of the top-rated syndicated show The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. But in 1990, Jeff launched A Touch Of Jazz Productions (ATOJ) as a creative hub largely to foster his love of R&B and soul. After a decade of producing for outside artists, ATOJ introduced what would be its first breakthrough artist in Grammy-winning singer Jill Scott while further tilling the soil of the burgeoning neo-soul movement by introducing such artists as Musiq and Floetry. With 10 million albums sold worldwide and an enviable collection of awards, DJ Jazzy Jeff is definitely a man of many accomplishments. But his accomplishments wouldn’t be complete without feeding his love of R&B and soul via ATOJ. And that love is further translated in The Soul Mixtape.
Featuring 16 lustrous tracks hand picked by DJ Jazzy Jeff and soul music fanatics Teddy and Natalie Esposito, the disc mixes familiar faces (Dwele, Martin Luther, Pete Rock) with the freshman class of soul (Valencia Robinson, Michael Bohannon, Leela James), making for a best of both worlds listening experience. U.K. acid jazz renaissance man Omar duets with U.S. soul matriarch Angie Stone on a remake of the classic 1974 William DeVaughn hit "Be Thankful" while former Incognito vocalist Kellie Sae revamps Aretha Franklin’s 70s gem "Daydreamin’". The disc also contains two exclusive tracks from ATOJ artist V ("She Wants 2 Be", "Broken Dreams") not available anywhere else. DJ Jazzy Jeff blends these tracks with extreme care, exemplifying his passion and love for the genre. That same love also lead him to cross paths with soul aficionados Groovin’ Records, curators of the soul compilation series Neo Soul United (vol. 1-3) and Soul In The City.
The Soul Mixtape marks DJ Jazzy Jeff’s first release with an American independent label.