Will Smith reflected on his rap career and the reaction he received for choosing not to curse in his music.
The actor sat down with David Letterman for an episode of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” as part of season four of the
series, recorded prior to the Oscars and released on Friday.
During their conversation, Smith talked about his time as part of the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.
Smith said that he and Jeff Townes’ career took off when their first record, “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” became a national hit.
“You and Jeff had humor to your music,” Letterman said.
In response, Smith said: “That was really our major distinguishing quality at the time. It was comedy, it was punchlines, it was fun. We stood out in a really good way. We sort of had our own lane.”
Letterman then asked the actor, “Was there ever any pressure from anybody, or just the industry itself, to move out of that lane?”
“Not pressure as much as it was always that I was soft,” Smith said. “I hated that, being called soft.”
During their time as musical collaborators, Smith and Townes released five studio albums: “Rock the House” (1987), “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” (1988), “And in This Corner…” (1989), “Homebase” (1991), “Code Red” (1993).
Smith largely avoided expletives in his music, except for two songs: “You Saw My Blinker” from DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Homebase” and “Tell Me Why” from Smith’s 2005 solo album “Lost and Found.”
In his Letterman interview and his 2021 self-titled memoir, the “King Richard” actor said that the reason why he didn’t curse was because of his grandma.
When he was around 12 years old, Smith’s grandmother found his notebook where he wrote rap lyrics, some of which include expletives.
Smith told Letterman that upon looking through his book, she wrote a letter inside that read: “Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like these to express themselves. Please show the world that you’re as smart as we think you are. Love, Gigi.”
“That was the reason I never cursed in any of my records,” he said.