Hip hop master spins the discsRight after hosting one of the hottest electronic music parties of the year ― Sasha at M2 ― the megaclub Ohoo is gearing up for another grand venture.
One of the club’s venues, Hodgepodge, is getting a glamorized makeover, transforming from an alternative music staple into an upscale hip hop central, with the new name of Q-Vo.
And for tonight’s opening, DJ Jazzy Jeff will be throwing down some very danceable hip hop music with MC Skillz, also known as Madd Skillz, on the mic.
“He’s been one of those guys I’ve known about since my childhood,” organizer Robb Harker said, referring to DJ Jazzy Jeff, before rattling off such song titles as “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Summertime.”
When DJ Jazzy Jeff, born Jeffrey A. Townes, first blipped on the music radar, he was a Philadelphia-based DJ whose skills and music choices kept people on the dance floor. But he really became a household name in the mid-1980s as one-half of “DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.” The other musician was Will Smith.
Rolling Stone magazine describes them as a “trailblazing duo.” They sold more then 10 million records, winning three Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, two NAACP awards, two Soul Train Music Awards and an MTV Music Award.
“Their lyrics were the antithesis of the developing gangsta rap of the era, profanity-free and mostly concerned with partying and goofin’ off,” according to a profile on the Rolling Stone Web site.
Their platinum-selling albums with their happy vibe and clean lyrics helped bring hip hop over to the mainstream.
In an article on how hip hop took over the Grammys, VH1 notes that when rap was introduced as a category in 1989, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were the first to win. They boycotted the event, however, because at that time the rap category was only for best performance. Awards for records and albums were excluded.
“We got straight A’s, we’re selling plenty of albums and we’re making an impact,” Smith told MTV that year. “We think we’re being denied what is rightfully ours.”
Smith’s musical career brought him to the attention of television executives. Smith became the leading character in the TV sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which also included Jeff as the character Jazz. The popular sitcom paved the way for Smith’s movie career, while Jeff continued making inroads in the music industry.
He started his own production company and produces some of Smith’s songs. Jeff released his first solo album, “The Magnificent,” in 2002 to critical acclaim.
As for the party at Q-Vo, the music change comes because “hip hop is so much bigger in Korea,” Mr. Harker says. There already are a few established hip hop joints in Hongdae, like NMB and Harlem. But Mr. Harker has no qualms about standing out from the crowd. “We have access to urban and international artists that other clubs don’t,” he says.
Having booked international artists like DJ Jazzy Jeff, Q-Vo has already started to create a local buzz. They’ve been hosting not just regular hip hop parties, but a series of MC Battles, like the ones seen in the documentary “Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme,” directed by Kevin Fitzgerald.
After the success of the Sasha party last weekend at M2, Mr. Harker says about Q-Vo’s grand opening party: “It’s going to be good.”
by Joe Yonghee
For more information, visit the Web site at www.ohoo.net.