Rolling Out

‘Girl Meets World’ star Amir Mitchell-Townes on being inspired by his dad, DJ Jazzy Jeff

Cristopher Schafer
photo by: Cristopher Schafer

Amir Mitchell-Townes is the latest breakout star from “Girl Meets World.” In the successor to beloved ‘90s series “Boy Meets World,” the 16-year-old plays Isaiah “Zay” Babineaux, a trouble-seeking funny guy with a heart of gold. Often used as comedic relief, Mitchell-Townes isn’t too far off from Jazz, a character played by his father, Jeffrey Townes aka DJ Jazzy Jeff, in another ‘90s show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Aside from playing the easy-going fifth man in the “Boy Meets World” spinoff, the young creative dabbles in music, as well. Instead of becoming a producer though, Mitchell-Townes opted to be like rapper-turned-actor Will Smith, his dad’s counterpart – an emcee. It was probably inevitable with parents who are music lovers like his – not to mention growing up with one of the baddest producers in the land.

“The thing with both of my parents [is] they love music. But, when I born it was right when music was taking a major turn. They didn’t not [sic] like music but they saw where music was changing and where they had to adjust. So what they did for me… they kind of wanted me to kind of experience more than one genre,” explained Mitchell-Townes. “Because it’s easy to fall into a specific genre when it comes to your love for music. So they kept me in hip-hop. They kept me in jazz. There were specific moments where my mom would throw on a country album and my dad would throw on a rock album. And it was always just trying to keep me within each.”

Like most celebrity kids, Mitchell-Townes just saw his dad as … dad. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” finished airing three years before the young actor was born and it wasn’t until very recently that he understood the magnitude of his Grammy Award-winning father’s success.

“The crazy thing is I didn’t really realize who my dad was. Officially, probably until like maybe last year, it didn’t really hit me,” he said. “It was like he’s on a show and he’s performing. That was normal. That was my normality for so long. When I was conscious enough to realize that that was perceived as extraordinary. That’s when I really started to grasp it more.”

As for the young emcee, he’s got impressive music taste as well. His favorite rapper? Lauryn Hill. Who does he think is the most influential rapper? MF Doom. As for an influential rapper of today, Mitchell-Townes named Joey Bada$$. All surprising and unlikely choices from a 16-year-old, but there they stand. “Lauryn Hill is ingenious and she’s just so sick,” he said before later naming MF Doom’s Madvillainy as his favorite album. He also keeps the hardcore punk band Bad Brain, experimental hip-hop group Death Grips and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s The Magnificent as constants in his playlist.

Mitchell-Townes also dropped a 7-track LP of his own on his birthday last September titled 15 North Dakota. While Smith’s kids, Willow and Jaden, have also released a steady slew of experimental music, according to Mitchell-Townes, a second-generation collaboration is a possibility.

“We’ve talked about it before we’ve just never gotten around to it. We’re just all trying to find ourselves and explore. You know we all listen to each other and stuff like that. When it feels right it’ll probably will happen,” he said.

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