Black History Month Celebration: 1989

February is a month of celebration in the pop culture community — between the Grammy and the Academy Awards, the best in the music and cinema fields will be recognized in the next month. However, between the awards buzz for those two big nights, we want to make not to overshadow February’s significance: Black History Month. So to follow the month’s trend of celebration, we plan to spend all of February going through the most important African-American pop culture personalities of the last 29 years. We continue today with 1989.

Who said rap had to be serious and violent?  The same year N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” premiered two kids from West Philidelphia won a Grammy for their light-hearted rap song, “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand.”

But this wasn’t the first time DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince had tasted success.  The duo appeared on the rap scene in 1985 with their single “Girl’s Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” a song that sampled the theme song from “I Dream of Jeannie.”  Then in March of 1987 the duo’s first album, Rock the House, was released and sold 300,000 copies.  Because of their immediate success, Jeff Townes (DJ Jazzy Jeff) and Will Smith (the Fresh Prince) found themselves on tour with rap giants such as Run DMC and Public Enemy.

Stardom fell upon the pair in 1988 when they released He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper.  It was one of the first rap albums to go double-platnium.  Will Smith, obviously, has gone on to become much more than just a rapper.  His appearances on the big screen have made him world famous.  But don’t forget about DJ Jazzy Jeff; he has a legacy of his own.  He is credited for inventing a form of scratching called “transforming” that is still popular among DJs today.


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