Afrika Islam and Jazzy Jay pioneered the first DJ team routines as they used to team up to battle GrandMaster Flash (solo) and GrandWizzard Theodore (solo).  Jazzy Jay was also one of the Zulu King dancers in the early 70's.

Jazzy Jay was essentially a founder of Def Jam records along with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. He appeared on T La Rock's "It's Yours".  While with Def Jam, Jazzy worked with such artists as LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy.  Jazzy Jay also put out the 3rd Def Jam 12" in 1985 called "Def Jam" b/w "Cold Chillin' In The Spot" with Russell Simmons on vocals.

Jazzy Jay was Busy Bee's DJ on his his 1st LP having produced the monumental "Suicide" in 1987.

He was also signed to Cutting Records and recorded two 12"s with an emcee named Seville called "Take a Walk" in 1987 and "Make it Funky" in 1988.  (Seville also had one or two other hits with King Shameek.)

Jazzy furthered his producing and engineering skills when he founded Jazzy Jay's Studio, providing a place where Fat Joe, Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, among others could begin their careers. Jazzy began a new label with Rocky Bucano- Strong City records was born. Strong City produced a multitude of hits with Ice Cream Tee, the Masters of Ceremony, Busy Bee, and Don Baron.

Jazzy was inducted into the Technics DJ Hall of Fame in 2000. Jazzy Jay is also featured in the DJ documentary "Scratch" which recently premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and The Australian Scratch Tour in December 2002. Jazzy enjoys rocking parties internationally as well as explaining Hip Hop history, industry, and politics. Jazzy and GrandWizzard Theodore have recently teamed up to appear and DJ at shows together.

Jazzy Jay and Grand Wizard Theodore (Inventor of the Scratch)

We had time for a quick interview with Jazzy Jay after his Lectured at the School.

How long have you been on the decks?

I started when I was very young, I started at the age of 13 and I’ve been doing this for about 27 years now.

What inspired you to be a DJ ?

Well I have to give a lot of that credit to, like one of my mentors Cool D.J. D; he was like the neighbourhood cat that used to come outside & set up his system to play music for everybody, and you know, just the enjoyment that everybody got from the neighbourhood, it was somethin’ that, you know had to be a part of. I liked that energy you know, and the way he captivated the crowd and moved the crowd with his music. That was somethin’ that I had to be a part of, so I credit him with instilling that seed within my soul & lettin’ it grow. And then, you know, Bambatta had a lot to do wit’ it, because he inspired me. His record selection & what he would do to just get the crowd into the party mode & into the groove. Those are the two mentors that really got me into it - and then I could never forget my cousin, Red Alert who actually took me under his wing. And you know when I couldn’t afford turntables, I could always go over to Red’s house & I’d sit there when he’d come home from work; meet him at the front door, he’d go lay on the bed & I’d just go straight to the records, you know what I’m sayin’? So it was like a lot of hours put in it, but you know, for the love that I get back from it, it’s well worth the time that I invested.

Has any particular artists inspired you ?

Oh yeh, definitely, a lot of the people that inspired me where a lot of the older groups also, like James Brown. As far as being a DJ James Brown's grooves always talked to me from through the needle. That’s the way these people made me feel, and it made me in turn, just like wanna hit the turntables or hit the drums, you know, cause I’m a drummer and you know, it just made music that much more a part of me.

Are there any contemporary artists or DJ’s that are playing around currently that would continue to inspire you?

Yeh I pick up inspiration you know, it’s like life, inspiration is where you find it. I find a lot of inspiration & a lot of talent from watching the various DJ's do their thing & I pick up little notes, cause you’re never too old to learn ! I’ve been doing this for a while & I’m still learning, you know what I’m sayin’? I mean I like a lot of what’s goin’ on, so I try to take the positive entity of everything that I visually take in and just try to implement that into my game plan, you know what I’m sayin’? So that when I go do my thing, I’ll be that much better ....

What 3 records would I take on a dessert island?

I would have to take somethin’ of an Earth Wind & Fire nature, you know, ‘cause that’s that spiritual... All right, then I would have to take something groovy down, gritty, so I’d take somethin’ like Buddy Miles, then I would take my essence, my true essence, which is the rhythm of the beat, I’d have to take somethin’ funky on the Hip-hop tip, to just always let that beat know that it’s still flowin’, that would be somethin’ maybe like the Hip-hop anthem ‘Apache’

What would be your top 3 club tracks of all time, for a dance floor, say?

Oh yeh, like say Marshall Jefferson, I kinda lean towards like Shannon, um, club tracks I would say Level 42 has made this song called ‘Starchild’. Level 42 is real deep. One of the first records I ever bought was a Donna Summer record, you talk about club & disco, she’s that Funk Disco you know what I’m sayin’?

What’s your impression of the Hip- hop scene in Sydney & Australia been so far?

It’s got a lot of energy! Everybody’s like, there, up for it. I didn't really venture into all of Sydney; but from what I’ve seen so far, I kinda dig it.

In your opinion, what qualities does it take to pursue a career in dj’ing?

The qualities? Well the main quality is that you’ve gotta’ have the a desire to do it you know, if you’re just playing with it, then, you know, you could be a good DJ ‘cause you might have talent or whatever the deal is, but you know,, if you work hard at it, you will definitely be a great DJ

We consider you as a walking encyclopedia of music; you’re like the master of records, Your record collection is amazing.

Well no, I wouldn’t take that title, that’s Bambata’s title, that’s the man, that’s the man right there, but I’ve got my moments .

Would you consider yourself to be perhaps the disciple of Africa Bambata?

Oh yeh, most definitely. I studied under Bambata for a long time, you know what I’m sayin’? The Universe of Bambata. But yeh, he’s cool Bam, there’s a lot of things you could say about him; Bam is one of those people who, who I mean deeply, believes in music, I mean music is his whole life, so of course, we got along , you know what I’m sayin’ ‘cause we were on that same wavelength

What was it like being around in that time & connecting with that energy with the original source of Hip-hop?

Well it’s something that you really can’t put into words, but it was something that you had to love for the music, because other than that, you didn’t do it. And you had to perfect your craft back then, cause it was like, if you got on that stage & you wasn’t nice, you were gonna wish you never got on that stage, it’s not like you can sell 100,000 copies of a record & then automatically everybody likes you- when you hit that stage, that was the defining moment. So, that’s, I mean, that’s what it was all about & the energy was like, it was brand new. It was exhilarating. You know what I’m sayin’, so you had to be there to actually understand the whole thing, but from somebody that was there, I’m glad that I was blessed enough to be a part of it.

What are your views on how Hip Hop is associated with violence ?

The situation that violence, in Hip-Hop, well in Rap, which is a part of Hip-Hop, you know, at every point in time that I get a chance, I try to address that ! We need to like, save each other, not kill each other ‘cause if you start talking about some nonsense, most of the time you might just get a record deal; if you talk about something positive that doesn’t fit their spectrum, you won’t get a deal, no matter how good the product is, you know what I’m sayin’. But that’s the corruption we gotta deal with in this business we call music, straight up !

Click on picture above for preview of his set at the school. Lecture to be uploaded soon !

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