In my mind, it’s not summer until I play DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime.” That song brings back a lot of good memories—it’s like I can feel the sun beating down on me and smell the meat on the grill as soon as I hear that Kool & The Gang “Summer Madness” sample kick in. I guarantee that it will get at least one play in my house this weekend. BUT, that song isn’t the subject of this week’s column. When I can figure out what to call a column like this dedicated to Nineties music, we’ll go there. Maybe next Memorial Day weekend.
Two years before Jeff and Will put their permanent mark on summer anthems, another hip-hop icon kick started the summer jams craze with his own song dedicated to block parties, pretty girls, and everything else you associate with June, July and August. Doug E. Fresh’s “Summertime” doesn’t get the same amount of props that Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” gets, but they’re both really good songs, and both videos capture a light, carefree vibe. Doug’s video is a little more on the urban side, which speaks more to myBrooklynupbringing than the Fresh Prince clip did. Plus, only Doug E.’s video features a cameo from a pre-Bad Boy Sean “Puffy” Combs.
Although probably best known among under-21s for having a dance (The Dougie) named after him, Doug E. was one of hip-hop’s first megastars. His debut record, 1985’s “The Show/La Di Da Di” is one of the genre’s most fondly remembered songs, not to mention one of the biggest selling rap records of the ‘80s. Not only was Doug a dope emcee, but he was a talented dancer and a champion beatboxer, helping to popularize that talent along with The Fat Boys’ Buffy. He also presented the world with Slick Rick, his former rhyme partner and still one of the most gifted rhymers to ever put down a verse.
Doug’s never had any real pop success, but he’s hung around for over a quarter century. He routinely pops up on TV, and you’ve seen him on everything from VH-1’s endless series of “I Love The…” shows to “American Idol,” where he performed with Blake Lewis. He was briefly a member of the MC Hammer camp, he was shouted out on Prince’s “Musicology” single, and “The World’s Greatest Entertainer” still rocks shows around the world with his rhyming and beatboxing skills. Plus, he created an essential summer song. That’s a pretty fresh resume!