DJ Jazzy Jeff Remembers the Making of Homebase, 20 Years Later
[Editor’s Note: This past July, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince celebrated the 20-year anniversary of their fourth album, Homebase. Featuring hits like “Ring My Bell” and the Grammy Award-winning, “Summertime,” the album garnered the Philly duo its second platinum plaque. Here, Jazzy Jeff tells XXL about the making of the album.]
AS TOLD TO CARL CHERY (@cchery)
You know what’s funny? I remember somebody at the record company [Jive Records] telling us that every time you guys do a record, the record company bets against you. I never forgot that. It was kinda like, “Damn, we’re even fighting with our own record company. They don’t even believe us. But I remember that was the first year of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, so Will was in L.A. taping and I was in Philly. Of course, being from the East Coast March, April, that first 75, 80 degree day, you see a girl that comes out, with the body that she ain’t have last summer. Everybody is washing their car and playing their music. It’s a feeling of nostalgia that you kinda get as soon as the season starts to change. With Will being in L.A., it was 80 degrees for Christmas, so he’s kinda like, “Damn, as much as I like that, I didn’t get that season change and that vibe that you get when you’re back East and that’s what made him write “Summertime” because he’s like, “Yo, I miss going to the water ice spot and getting your water ice and driving out to the Plateau and seeing the girl that last summer she ain’t have no body,” and you know, he missed all of that. That was the whole culmination of “Summertime” and Homebase and then it was crazy because we put it out and he was able to parlay the video being shown at the end of Fresh Prince, which people never did and that basically helped. I remember going to Tom Joyner and I joke with [radio host] Tom Joyner every time I see him. Me and Tom, we were all cool when we used to go up to his radio show in the early days of Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and I remember seeing him at a music convention and I was like, “Yo, me and Will got a record coming. It’s gon’ be great and I looked in his face and he had that look, like, “Yea, everybody tell me that.” And I remember going up to his show for “Summertime” and he said that. He was like, “You know what? I gotta give you credit because I didn’t believe you. You said, “We got something that is gon really get the people” and you guys were right. It’s crazy because as much as I love “Summertime” and I want it to be around forever, every year I wait for that record to die. Not in a bad way, but every summer, I’m kinda like, this is going to be the summer that they’re not gonna start playing “Summertime” when it gets hot and it comes back every year and that’s a major blessing. [Kool & The Gang] loved it. I mean, we had to get clearance from them, but they loved it. I grew up with “Summer Madness” and I grew up with the regular version and the live version of “Summer Madness” at the block parties and the old radio stations playing it. The emotion that it evoked and in the ’70s and the ’80s, that’s what we tried to do in the ’90s.