How Classic Is DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's Code Red? | 1993 Album Review
CLASSIC RATING: 4 OUT OF 6
Producers: Pete Rock, Teddy Riley, Mr. Lee, Will Smith, Jeff Townes, Hula & K. Fingers, Xavier Hargrove, Dallas Austin
Code Red was released Oct. 12, 1993, and was DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's fifth and final album. By 1993 Will Smith was already three seasons into his hit sitcom The Fresh of Bel-Air and was even trying his hand at movies with 'Six Degrees of Separation'. So finding time on his tight schedule to record a DJJTFP album must have been a challenge and it's admirable that he still managed to pursue music during everything else that was happening for him at the time.
Code Red features a lot of different producers other than Jazzy Jeff such as Pete Rock and Teddy Riley and on the lyrical tip, Will Smith is on point, as usual, delivering both storytelling and battle lyrics. What makes Will so great is that he always separates the storytelling lyrics from the more braggadocious or party-oriented lyrics. His ability to paint a picture in your head and tell a captivating narrative is on display on the title track which is produced by Pete Rock where he raps about being in a situation where he has not been truthful to his girlfriend and the events that unfold when he's found out. While on 'Twinkle Twinkle (I 'm Not A Star) his casual and conversational lyrics talk about being famous and at the same time being a down to earth person i.e. 'a regular guy'.
On 'I'm Looking For The One (To Be With Me)' Will creates a nice party vibe over a funky R&B influenced track produced by Teddy Riley who is credited with creating the New Jack Swing style which this track is a fine example of with it's chilled out grooves. The following track is the CHHM certified classic 'Boom! Shake The Room' which was produced by Mr. Lee and was a major hit in Europe and reached number one in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Australia in the summer of 1993. The beat is Boombastic (no pun intended) and features a damn funky piano, rock hard drums, and a badass bassline and when Will grabs the mic he takes the party to the next level and eventually blows the roof off the house.
'Shadow Dreams' is the oddest sounding track on Code Red with its mystical and murky production while the lyrics have Will explaining the importance of never giving up on your dreams. Another unusual sounding track is 'Ain't No Place Like Home' with it's jazzy and soft Hawaiian sounding production which features a Slick Rick vocal sample on the chorus.
A nice touch to this album is the resurgence of the hip-hop DJ on 'I Wanna Rock', which is a throwback to their 80's albums, giving Jazzy Jeff the opportunity to scratch and cut. What makes this track even nicer is that it features live drums and a bass player and a live audience cheering on the duo as Will raps and riffs about Jazzy's skills. The last track on the album is 'Scream' and it carries on the live vibe and as the title implies it features a lot of "call and response" over a solid and hard-hitting beat which was typical in '93. Will also does some pretty cool adlibbing in an early 80's old school party MC style which pays homage to The Fresh Prince's roots in the early days of the genre.
Sadly this would be the last DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince album, but Will would resurrect his musical career in 1997 when he made the excellent 'Men In Black' track as well as 'Just Cruisin' for the Men In Black movie soundtrack. He would follow up that success with his first solo album 'Big Willie Style' in 1997, which featured three classic songs, 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It', 'Miami', and 'Just the Two of Us'. Will would continue to release more solo albums over the years and at the same time become the biggest actor in the world with numerous blockbusters and award-winning performances making The Fresh Prince a legend in multiple arenas. But it all started in music industry together with his excellent DJ, the magnificent Jazzy Jeff and at the end of the day, they are a legendary duo who created five amazing albums and many memorable hit songs that are enjoyed to this day.