When Bel-Air — the reimagined dramatic revamp of the ’90s television classic The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — premieres via Peacock on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 13), it will also mark the debut of a new business collaboration. Joining forces to score music for the series are current Grammy nominees Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin through their recently established company Glasper/Martin.
The launch of Glasper/Martin follows the pair’s 2020 collaboration Dinner Party: Dessert, which also features 9th Wonder and Kamasi Washington. The EP is a Grammy nominee this year for best progressive R&B album. Both are busy as well with solo projects. Black Radio III, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Glasper’s Grammy-winning debut album in the series, arrives Feb. 25 (Loma Vista Recordings). And Martin is readying a deluxe version of his critically acclaimed November 2021 release Drones that will be titled Clones (Sounds of Crenshaw/BMG).
Glasper and Martin, who met in jazz camp in 1996, were preparing to score episode 8 of Bel-Air’s 10-show run when Billboard caught up with the pair in Los Angeles.
How did Glasper/Martin and the chance to score Bel-Air come about?
Martin: I got a call from Morgan Cooper, the director of the show, last year. Rob and I had worked together before; I also knew that he was already in the game doing scores for film and television. So I was like, “Yo, I got this call and I’d like us to form a company. “ And Rob was like, “Yo, let’s form a company.” And now the intro to our brand is the Fresh Prince reboot. It’s been a joy to really get down with Rob and our team on this. But there’s also going to be so much more down the road.
Glasper: We started working on the show in New York during my [Blue Note] residency in October. Terrace and I had worked together on Dinner Party: Dessert, and he was my guest for one of the weeks at the Blue Note. He then stayed a few days longer so we could go into Electric Lady Studios to start the scoring process.
What was your initial reaction to the show’s dramatic revamp?
Glasper: Being a fan — and child — of Quincy Jones [an executive producer of the original version], hearing about the Fresh Prince reboot immediately got my attention. But there’s always the question that comes with trying to bring something back and not wanting it to go wrong. But once Morgan showed me a two-minute trailer, I was sold.
Martin: That was the same for me. I ended up having dinner with Morgan at his crib. He sat me down and broke down each character while explaining some of the serious issues the show’s team want to cover. The show really tackles the Black experience; they say uncomfortable sh– that needs to be said. Like with the character Geoffrey; he’s so cold. And I’m going to leave it at that. [Laughs] Everybody in this reboot is walking with their heads up, intelligently dealing with key matters in life but still with energy reminiscent of the earlier version. Given the real twist behind the reboot, we felt like this was the perfect project for us to be involved with.
Musically, what can viewers expect to hear?
Glasper: Because of the show being set in this time period, there will be some things you’ve heard before. But then there’s also going to be some things you’ve never heard. After we had a few meetings with Morgan and got a sense of what was envisioned, it was boom, boom, boom. Some people do a lot of pre-scoring, but we don’t. We both came up in jazz; that’s our heart. Terrace is more hard-core into R&B/hip-hop production than me, but through my Black Radio projects, I’ve worked in R&B. So that’s where and how our magic happens — making things up on the spot when we record. So we’re applying all that to this. We definitely have our own way of getting in there as we bend and shape things as we watch scenes together and then go. There’s no ego here.
Martin: Everything we’re putting together … it’s going to be like a giant soulful burrito.
Moving forward, what’s your vision for Glasper/Martin?
Martin: We’ve talked about not only doing music, but about moving into producing films. We also want to help other young, creative cats get turned onto scoring. Our heroes are people like Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock. They’re not only great artists and musicians, but also great businessmen. So film, TV, business education … that’s what we see ahead for Glasper/Martin.
Glasper: And I think we should also make Glasper/Martin a liquor brand too because it sounds like one. [Laughs]