The Deal: The new album by Will Smith's former partner, acclaimed hip-hop producer DJ Jazzy Jeff.
The Good: People who only know DJ Jazzy Jeff as Will Smith's sidekick truly don't understand this guy's impact on the music industry. He's a music insider responsible for launching the careers of cats like The Roots and Jill Scott, and he's also recognized and regarded as one the best producers of "true" hip-hop beats on the planet. And on this brand new CD, Jeff's stellar production skills are on full display. Cuts like "My Soul Ain't For Sale" (featuring Raheem DeVaughn) and "Let Me Hear You Clap" (with Pos of De La Soul) showcase Jeff's mellow and keyboard-heavy, melodic style. This ain't snap music folks. His beat-making is reminiscent of Native Tongue-tinged rhythms of hip-hop's golden era -- 1988-1992 -- but it retains enough modern elements to avoid sounding like throwback music.
The Bad: On each song, Jeff is joined by an MC or a vocalist, but not all the pairings work. The cut "Go See the Doctor 2K7," for example, features some pretty silly lyrics (by rapper Twone Gabz) that seem to be at odds with Jeff's sophisticated soundscapes.
The Verdict: If you're a "true head" or a fan of the golden era of hip-hop, you'll love this CD. If you think that MIMS or T-Pain is fresh, you have terrible taste in music and you will loathe Return of the Magnificent.