Theme Song Thursday: Before Big Willie Style, There Was The Fresh Prince

In the late ’80’s, Will Smith broke out as the MC in DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. In 1988, they were the first ever to win a Grammy in the Rap category. His popularity and fame spawned the TV show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” It ran six seasons from 1990-1996 and was loosely based on Smith. His character’s named Will and they’re both street smart teens from West Philadelphia.

Nothing says the '90s like a neon green backdrop

The show’s theme is catchy and quintessential Will Smith. Humorous, good-natured and sans swear words, just like his rap career, and it sets up the context of the show.

The theme music was produced by QD3, the son of show executive producer Quincy Jones, with lyrics written by Smith. The full version was cut in the later seasons to allow more time for the show. I was rapping this song in the bathtub as Naughty By Nature and Public Enemy rose the charts.

The theme would later grace “Big Willie Style’s” Greatest Hits album and reach No. 3 on the charts in The Netherlands. If you’re like me, you still remember all the words to this (and Salt N Pepa’s “Shoop”), but if not, here ya go.

Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I liked to take a minute just sit right there
And tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air

In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground is where I spent most of my days
Chillin out, maxin, relaxing all cool,
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one lil fight and my mom got scared
And said “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”

I whistled for a cab and when it came near
The license plate said FRESH and it had dice in the mirror
If anything I can say this cab was rare
But I thought naw forget it yo homes to Bel-Air

I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8
And I yelled to the cabby “Yo homes smell ya later”
I looked at my kingdom I was finally there
To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air

Studied up? Try your skills during the video.

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Theme Song Thursday is a weekly look back at memorable, not-so-influential, nostalgia-inducing theme songs by the Herald’s Melinda Lavine and Ryan Johnson. Click here to read other Theme Song Thursday posts and feel free to share!

Here’s a Theme Song Thursday extra. These moves never go outta style (or so I tell myself on the dance floor).