DJ Jazzy Jeff, the man I consider to be the best DJ ever to do it, recently mentioned that his homeboy, and partner in rhyme of course, Will Smith is one of the top 5 storytellers Hip Hop’s ever known. As a big fan of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, I’m always happy to come across stories like this because I personally feel that neither get the credit they deserve as true pioneers of Rap. As I’ve already mentioned, Jazzy Jeff has always been fantastic on the turntables, his trademark Transformer Scratch being my favorite example of skills, and with his Vinyl Destination series he does a great job of traveling the globe to bring us great stories and performances that keep something I like to call True School Hip Hop alive.
As far as Will goes, we all know he’s one of Hollywood’s top actors, but it’s when he’s in the news for Hip Hop that I’m most intrigued. As such, when I came across Jazzy Jeff’s comments I started thinking about some of Will’s storytelling moments on the mic. With that in mind, here’s a by no means exhaustive list of songs where Will Smith captures a moment and crafts a picturesque tale along with some standout lyrics that display Will’s brilliance at his craft.
Just The Two Of Us
On the first verse of this ode to his son, Will beautifully captures the strong emotions of angst, pride, and love that engulfed him when he became a father. He details the moment he first held his son, the car ride home from the hospital, and his first night with the newborn. He describes struggling with the car seat, being frustrated in traffic by aggressive drivers, and being so overcome with emotions that he couldn’t get any sleep. Poetic, vivid, and strong lyrics certainly drive this verse and as such it stands as a prime example of Will Smith’s storytelling talents.
From the first time the doctor placed you in my arms
I knew I’d meet death before I’d let you meet harm
Although questions arose in my mind, would I be man enough?
Against wrong, choose right and be standing up
From the hospital that first night
Took a hour just to get the car seat in right
People driving all fast, got me kinda upset
Got you home safe, placed you in your bassinet
That night I don’t think one wink I slept
As I slipped out my bed, to your crib I crept
Touched your head gently, felt my heart melt
Cause I know I loved you more than life itself
Parents Just Don’t Understand
One of his greatest and most memorable hits, “Parents Just Don’t Understand” serves as the most famous example of The Fresh Prince’s storytelling prowess. In fact, Will’s narrative of teenage rebellion and its inevitable consequences was so well told that pairing it with its colorful video led to the creation of the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as confirmed by Jazzy Jeff himself in this piece. Our choice lyrics finds a young Will going at it with his mom over school clothes, as he of course wants the flyest gear available and mom (who of course is more concerned about the family budget) not having it. You can almost see Will squirm as she picks out a pair of Zips.
We headed downtown to the Gallery Mall
MY mom started bugging with the clothes she chose
I didn’t say nothing at first
I just turned up my nose
She said, “What’s wrong? This shirt cost $20″
I said, “Mom, this shirt is plaid with a butterfly collar!”
The next half hour was the same old thing
My mother buying me clothes from 1963
And then she lost her mind and did the ultimate
I asked her for Adidas and she bought me Zips!
I said, “Mom, what are you doing, you’re ruining my rep”
She said, “You’re only sixteen, you don’t have a rep yet”
I said, “Mom, let’s put these clothes back, please”
She said “no, you go to school to learn not for a fashion show”
You Saw My Blinker Bitch
On this track off their 1991 Homebase album, Will calmly, but angrily, and at times sarcastically tells a story about an old lady driving recklessly and causing an accident where his car gets the worst of the damage. With the declaration of “you saw my blinker bitch” closing each verse, it’s one of the few times you ever hear Will swear on a Rap song. He does censor himself however on the first verse, when instead of rapping “mad as shit” he uses the phrase “mad as hell”, despite the rhyme pattern calling for the s word given the previous two lines ended in “car got hit” and “happened so quick.” Gotta love Will. Even when he allowed himself to swear on a track, he still kept it as a PG as possible. In our choice lyrics, we find a pissed off Fresh Prince right after the accident occurred. A sympathetic cop takes the side of the old lady and this infuriates Will even more, but he tries his best to keep his cool. Even Will Smith can’t get the benefit of the doubt when there’s an old (presumably white) lady involved. Fun cinematic rhymes indeed.
We both pulled off on the side of the road
I was hot ready to explode
The only thing stopping me from breaking her nose
Is I was 21 and she was 90 years old
Then the police came turn the lights off
The lady started cryin’ and the cop got soft
The cop said ah it’ll be okay
Wrinkled old bag lookin’ like a charpe
I said wait what’s going on cop
Her car’s fine my car is wrecked
Then I saw what happened in the crash
Her dentures came out her mouth and got stuck in the dash
You hit me I didn’t hit you
Stop holding your neck lady you can’t sue
It’s your fault you caused all this
You saw my blinker bitch
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