Best of Will Smith part 1, the Fresh Prince years

I was going through my Will Smith CD collection a few weeks ago when I realized I was missing one of his cd’s I completely forgot about. I finally decided to buy the disc off Amazon. I gave it a brief listen to before I decided to figure out what my favorite Will Smith tracks are. I spoke a little about this on my recent podcast, yet I still wanted to write a full article describing the individual tracks.

So here is my list, broken into to parts. Part one will cover the songs released under the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince brand. Part two will cover all of the songs released just under the Will Smith branding.

These are not ranked in any particular order just a list of my favorite DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince songs.

Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble- Rock the House

This is one of the best songs from his debut album. The duo quickly made a name for themselves in this track that samples the theme song from the famous TV sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie. The song is a humorous tale of Smith’s experiences with various females. Each tale ends with him telling his buddies how girls are nothing but trouble. There is a reprise later on the album from the girls perspective, but it’s not as iconic as this one.

Summertime- Homebase

This is probably one of the most iconic songs in the Fresh Prince catalog. The premise is simple, take a smooth funk song, remix it into a smooth hip-hop track and lace it with mellow rhymes devoted to reminiscing of all the good times from summers gone past. It’s the perfect slow jam for a warm summer day. Just put the track on the radio, crank the volume up as loud as you can handle and sit back sipping your favorite summer beverage while the tune washes over you.

The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff- He’s the DJ, I’m The Rapper

This is one of those old-school songs that blends Smiths fast, on topic rhymes with Jeff’s quick cuts and funky bass lines. As a former turntablist I can fully appreciate a good Jazzy Jeff mix track. The song show cases Jeffrey’s turntable wizardry at it’s finest, even showcasing his famous transformer scratch with a narrative of Smith referring to Jeff as an actual Autobot. Good time.

Then She Bit Me- And In This Corner

This is the first track off the amazing record “And In This Corner” which features another song I will discuss shortly. The song reminds me a lot of a Jim Carey film called Once Bitten. In the song, just like the film, a young man meets a strange woman at a bar, goes back to her mansion where she bites him and he discovers she was a vampire. Okay the song doesn’t explicitly make those connections, however the music is very vampire-film inspired organ music laced with some very rock solid bass lines and a deep, pounding beat. The song is short, no hook, no chorus, but it tells a goofy story just like Smith’s best songs and is a good song to dance to if you happen to be in the mood, or just to chill out to as is most often the case with his music.

I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson- And In This Corner

Not exactly the “title” track from the ablum, but you could call it the “Main Event” if you wanted to do so. The track is a very fun tale of Will Smith famously challenging Iron Mike Tyson to a boxing match. In my podcast I highlight how much of a Nintendo fan Smith comes off and this song is likely a good reference for a Nintendo fan if you ever played Mike Tyson’s Punch Out for the NES, which was popular when the song came out. Anyways gaming connections aside, the song is one of the funniest songs Smith performed from his early days. The music has a very upbeat boxing ring vibe to it and the imagery is very 1980’s. The track was also featured on his Greatest Hits Collection, so you know it’s one of his best.

Boom! Shake the Room- Code Red

This was basically the very first song I ever heard by the duo and remains one of my favorites. It doesn’t have the humor of his earlier tracks but it sure packs a good punch. The hard-hitting beat, the almost g-funk sounding bass lines, and fast, angry raps make it a show of force for the rapper who was in the midst of a transition at this time. Code Red would be the last album he did as a duo and before he would go on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest names. It was a solid house party style dance track that to this day could get any hip-hop fan on the dance floor.

Nightmare on My Street- He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

It’s no secret that A Nightmare on Elm Street is not only one of my favorite film franchises of all time, it’s actually my favorite movie of all time. The song tells a story how Smith and some of his friends go to see the original Elm Street film and later that night he gets a visit from Krueger in his dreams just like in the film. The song borrows dialog from the second film, while it also captures more of the MTV-inspired funny Krueger than the scary original. The song is perfectly 80’s and makes a good song to set the mood for a good Elm Street marathon.

I Wanna Rock- Code Red

This is one of those songs that hearkens back to the old school. Smith clearly was trying to recapture the glory days with this track while the rest of the album was showcasing his ability to adapt to the changing landscape of hip-hop. The song is short, and not very well produced. It’s a simple record scratch looping the same vocal sample over, and over. The line, “I wanna rock right now” from the Rob Base and EZ Rock track, It Takes Two, is the center-piece of the track with some old school beat boxing and a live band in the back ground backing up Smith’s raps, once again bragging about the skills of his partner-in-crime.

He’s the DJ, I’m The Rapper- He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

Yes, the title track from one of his earliest cd’s is still the best track on that record. Smith kicks some old school fast freestyle sounding raps to Jeff’s patented record mixing and fast scratches to a very familiar retro electro track. The song is just oozing with Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince charm that made the duo so famous. It’s old school, it’s funky and it’s b-boy dancable all at the same time. Bust out the cardboard box, slip into some sweat pants and pull out your best break dance moves to this groovy track.

The Human Video Game- He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

I picked this song because it’s pretty simple, it’s just a beat box track with Ready Rob doing his thing. The beat boxing imitates the sounds from an actual Donkey Kong arcade machine. It’s just a fun song with Smith bragging about his friend’s obsession with the arcade classic and how he is capable of using his beat boxing skills to make it sound like he is actually playing the game. It’s another one of those famous light-hearted tracks the group was famous for.

Theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Oh come on, you knew I was going to pick this song. Summertime might be his most iconic track from his music career, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a sitcom we all know and love. The theme song gets stuck in your head and you know you like it. There isn’t much else to say, it’s just a fun song that sets the premise of the show perfectly.

I left off a few tracks he is more famous for, but to be honest, I didn’t think they were his best songs. Sure everyone knows Parent’s Just Don’t Understand, but seriously it’s a fine song but not worth a lot of the hype. I had a few other songs I could have mentioned, like Ring my Bell, or Brand New Funk, but I didn’t want to to look like I was only picking songs from the team’s Greatest Hits collection. Although it would be easy to just pick up that one album and call it a day, there are so many other great tracks I just wanted to highlight a few from each record. It was hard because honestly, I love them all. I might not like every single song on every CD, but I enjoy every CD and there is easily more than one song per CD I like, too many for a brief post such as this.

Look for part two where I go through his entire solo career and try to pick out the best of the best, of the best, with honors.