“I don’t care where you are in this world. If you drop the theme song in front of 50,000 people on a beach in Singapore at a festival, everybody sings it. It’s everywhere,” DJ Jazzy Jeff told Entertainment Weekly about the iconic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, which took a mere 15 minutes to create.
Now, nearly 30 years removed from the show’s debut, the ubiquitous one-liner from the track (“In West Philadelphia, born and raised”) has become a pop-culture staple and cemented the show’s legacy within TV history.
Will Smith’s jovial storytelling and theatrics coupled with DJ Jazzy Jeff’s masterful turntable skills were a far cry from the R-rated braggadocio of gangster rap during the ’90s but positioned the Philadelphia-based pair to go down as one of hip-hop’s dynamic rap duos.
After whetting the appetite of fans with the hopes of a DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince reunion tour, Will Smith took to Facebook on Monday to announce that the duo will embark on a two-day tour to Croatia for the MTV Summerblast Festival and to the U.K for Limewire Festival.
With a repertoire filled with classic hits like “Summertime” and “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand,” the duo’s greatest hits — compiled by Billboard below — are sure to have festival-goers chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool.
“Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” (1986)
Before the hit TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith (the duo performed under the moniker DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) had begun to find a place for themselves in the rap world once they released their debut album Rock the House with “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” as the lead single. Through humorous personal accounts of his experiences with girls, the I Dream of Jeannie-sampling cut finds the Fresh Prince warning the fellas about pursuing the “girls of the world.”
“Parents Just Don’t Understand” (1988)
If you pay attention to the song’s music video, you’ll see a familiar scene that was later used during the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” showcased Smith’s storytelling prowess, hitting No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and awarded the duo with the first-ever Grammy for best rap performance (they later boycotted the Grammys for not televising the category).
“Nightmare on My Street” (1988)
The Fresh Prince enlisted the spine-chilling villain of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Freddy Kreuger, as inspiration for “Nightmare on My Street.” Less ebullient than the duo’s past singles, Smith recounts a fictitious experience with the famous movie character. The music video for the song caused DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince to get into a legal battle with New Line Cinema, the studio responsible for the Nightmare franchise, but the Internet has kept the song alive and well.
“Brand New Funk” (1988)
The East Coast has been dubbed the birthplace of hip-hop, specifically New York. With the precision and boom-bap stylings of DJ Jazzy Jeff plus the flow and cadence of Will Smith on wax, the song finds the two saluting the elements and style of hip-hop’s mecca while fusing their own “brand-new funk” into the mix.
“I Think I Can Beat Mike T” (1988)
There’s a saying that goes: “In order to be the man, you have to beat the man.” With The Fresh Prince’s bravado throughout this track, he comes face-to-face in the ring with boxing champion Mike Tyson only to lose the fight by a knockout. Fun fact: Although Will Smith couldn’t defeat Mike Tyson, he did go on to star as Muhammad Ali in the 2001 film Ali.
“The Fresh Prince Theme Song” (1990)
“I don’t think at the time anyone would’ve guessed that it was going to have this kind of [legacy],” Andy Horowitz, creator of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, told EW about the opening sequence. Twenty-five years later and with re-runs of the series airing each week, the sitcom jingle is still leaving a lasting impression on the world. Ed Sheeran even gave the tune the acoustic treatment back in January.
“Ring My Bell” (1991)
History often repeats itself, and in hip-hop, sampling throwback songs is commonplace. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s “Ring My Bell” salutes disco-funk songstress Anita Ward by sampling her chart-topping hit of the same name.
In 1991, artists like Tupac, Naughty by Nature and A Tribe Called Quest ruled hip-hop’s “golden age,” but that didn’t stop DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince from scoring one of the most successful singles of the year. “Summertime” earned DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince another Grammy, this time for best rap performance by a duo or group, in 1992, and the song peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100. Questlove even plugged the song on his Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs of All Time list.
“Boom! Shake the Room” (1993)
Before Will Smith’s acting career took off with roles in Bad Boys, Independence Day and Men in Black, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released their last joint album, Code Red, led by “Boom! Shake the Room.” The cut bowed at No. 13 on the Hot 100 and found the G-rated rapper unleashing his “Hyde side” on the track.
“I’m Looking for the One (To Be With Me)” (1993)
DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince recruited famed producer Teddy Riley to produce the smooth, rhythmic earworm off the group’s fifth and final studio effort Code Red. The breezy cut samples “Tell Me If You Still Care” from The SOS Band as Fresh Prince raps about being “misunderstood” because of his non-gangster rhymes and opting to make “cuts from my guts to make you feel good.”