Is Rock The House By DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince A Classic Album? | Review
How Classic? 5 out of 6
Released: April 7, 1987
All young people probably know who Will Smith is, but they may not know that Will Smith was a fierce MC back in the day and was one part of a dynamic duo together with the magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff on the one and two's. They even had a badass beatboxer named Ready Rock C, who you'll have to hear to believe! They were the consummate hip-hop group and had everything: amazing lyrical dexterity, unbelievable turntable skills, beatboxing, classic songs, fantastic music videos, a great live show, and last but not least they had classic albums. Classic albums?! Yes, I said it! There's no doubt that they are one of hip-hop's greatest talents and should be considered as one the greatest groups of all-time. Yes, I said that too! More about that later, for now, let's get into this album review.
Rock The House begins with one of their all-time famous songs, 'Girls Ain't Nothing but Trouble' which features a sample from 'I Dream of Jeannie' and has three verses, each verse has Will telling a funny story about a troublesome encounter with a female. The song has an alternative version (also on the album) titled 'Guys Ain't Nothing but Trouble' which features Ice Cream Tee, and gives the girls an opportunity to share their perspective on troublesome guys. Next, the Fresh Prince tells some more stories on 'Just One of Those Days' and it's another example of his creativity and great storytelling abilities which tend to paint a picture in your head.
The title track 'Rock The House' is unusual for being a live song on a record and what makes it even rarer is that it doesn't even contain any recorded instruments, only their Beatboxer, Ready Rock C doing some amazing techniques like underwater beatboxing and even incorporating melodies which is something that takes a lot of skill and is seldom heard even today. The track is highly entertaining and with some great party rapping from Will, you can really get a feel for the atmosphere at this concert.
On 'Taking It To The Top' Will schools other rappers on what it takes to make it to the top of the rap industry, something he would actually do in the next couple years. After focusing on MC'ing they shift their focus to DJ'ing on 'The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff' where Jazzy displays his considerable skills on an exciting beat with scratching that is some of the best I've heard from this era. The number of scratching techniques performed is impressive, from chirps to the transformer (which is supposedly invented). With top-notch skill and tasteful samples, Jazzy Jeff proves that he is one of the greats, something that you can even see today as he is a widely respected DJ & producer.
Beginning side B we have 'Just Rockin' which is about (among other things) a kid rocking in his room to the music on his stereo, while the rest of the verses center around Will's lyrical prowess. The track is notable for including more beatboxing from Ready Rock C and he really adds to the excitement of this track. Next, we have 'Guys Ain't Nothing But Trouble' which is the female response to the first track on the album. It features Ice Cream Tee and is a great counterpoint to the aforementioned track by adding an equality of expression for both genders. After this, we go straight to the only instrumental track on the album which is a great little DJ set by Jazzy Jeff titled 'A Touch of Jazz'.
The last two tracks on the album are bit unusual, with the first track 'Don't Even Try It' being made up of what seems to be only a keyboard/drum-machine (no samples), and the last track is a special thanks (shout-out) segment with only some rudimentary scratching as the beat.
That was the album and it's a good one...now as a postscript, it's worth mentioning that DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince get little to no respect in the hip-hop community, never did and probably never will, and none of their albums are considered to be "classic". This has never sat well with me as a fan of the group and Will Smith since childhood and it's my pleasure and honor to be able to write this review for CHHM which is a magazine that is honest and unbiased in its reviews of hip-hop albums from the old school eras. The fact is DJFTFP created a lot of great hip-hop music that gets no props and is even frequently ridiculed for being soft or even worse for being "white people's rap" and sadly this criticism has nothing to do with their abilities as musical artists, and it's purely due to the hip-hop community's disdain for anything that's not criminal minded or overly political on the lyrical side. In fact, DJJTFP were actually heavily criticized for not swearing and cursing in their songs. Can you believe it!? But lucky for you CHHM doesn't just follow the herd and regurgitate the sentiments and commonly held opinions of your average fan who in turn has been influenced by your average magazines, who in turn have their average writers...here at CHHM you can get a fresh perspective and maybe a more realistic view of what is truly classic hip-hop music...