Hip-hop star Jazzy Jeff is glad he stepped back from the limelight, because his art is more important than making money.

After shooting to fame as one half of JAZZY JEFF + THE FRESH PRINCE with longtime pal Will Smith, Jeff made the break to concentrate on producing work with artists like Jill Scott and to create his own critically-acclaimed album THE MAGNIFICENT.

And he insists his change of direction was exactly what he wanted, because he had to get out the cut-throat world of stardom.

He says, "The only way I was gonna do an album like that was if I had creative freedom. It was too much like, 'Are you gonna get Will Smith on your project?'

"What it made me feel was, 'You guys aren't really concerned about the type of record I'm making. You just want me to be one of those stocks.' I didn't feel comfortable doing it. I don't want anybody to think that I'm anti-music or anti-radio, I'm just pro-freedom.

"I don't criticise anybody who's done it the other way. I chose to do this and it might not be the way for everybody.

"I was somebody who did what I loved and it became popular. Then I started doing what I felt people wanted and made a bunch of money and thought, 'Wow, I made a bunch of money - and I'm not happy.' What makes me happy is when I can do what I want."

09/10/2003 21:23