Home > Uncategorized > February 22 – The Fresh Prince

February 22 – The Fresh Prince

Yesterday I briefly mentioned Will Smith in my BHM intro and how, despite his best efforts, he has not won an Academy Award for his acting skills. Luckily for him, he is a man of multiple profitable talents, and it was his musical gifts that earned him the first Grammy ever awarded for Best Rap Performance. Do you know what his stage name was, and what song he won for?

Back in the 1980’s, before he was the Will Smith you know today, Willard Christopher Smith, Jr. was better known in the music industry as The Fresh Prince, a rap vocalist from West Philadelphia. After a chance meeting/collaboration with Jeff Townes at a local house party, the two became quick friends and decided to form the rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff &The Fresh Prince. DJ Jazzy Jeff brought a unique style of turntable scratching called Transforming, while The Fresh Prince distinguished himself with playful, story-telling lyrics decidedly free of the profanity and content prevalent in many other rappers’ songs.

The group’s first single, “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” was released in 1985, while Smith was still in high school. The song was a hit, and gave them the opportunity to release their first album, Rock the House,in 1987 and to tour with major acts like Run DMC and Public Enemy. In 1988, they followed Rock the House with their sophomore album, Hes the DJ, Im the Rapper,which went multi-platinum and made them overnight stars. It was he album’s lead-off single, Parents Just Dont Understand, which won them the first-ever Grammy for a rap/hip-hop song, beating out other memorable groups/songs of the day:

  • LL Cool J – “Going Back to Cali”
  • Salt-n-Pepa – “Push It”
  • J. J. Fad – “Supersonic”
  • Kool Moe Dee – “Wild Wild West”

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince would continue to put out hit songs and albums. They won a 2nd Grammy in 1991 for “Summertime,” their most successful single ever. In 1993, Smith stretched himself by taking his first lead role in the film Six Degrees of Separation, wowing critics and audiences alike for his performance. This marked the beginning of his successful movie acting career while simultaneously signaling the unofficial end of his partnership with Townes. The two remain friends, and still occasionally collaborate on Will Smith’s solo music performances.

Thanks for reading,

francis

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