Back When 4-Time Grammy Winner Will Smith Talked About Being the “Illegitimate artist” of the Hip Hop Community

Published 05/24/2023, 5:30 PM EDT

via Getty

A genre whose foundations were laid by people who breathed, lived, and wrote struggle so happened to be dominated by black people- Hip Hop. And Will Smith was chafing at the bit to make his name with those he considered his own, so much so that he filled his self-titled rap book with profanities big and small at the age of twelve, only to be schooled by his grandmother. This zeal towards rap and the promise to “uplift others” that he gave to his grandmother, is what gave the rap industry its first Grammy award-winning rapper.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Smith brought to the surface raps that were devoid of profanities and induced with humor, something that its listeners found fresh, as promised by his name. But for all the validation that he brought, Will Smith was a Mowgli in the jungle (hip-hop version).

Will Smith on being treated like the black sheep

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The Fresh Prince started as early as eighteen and won his first Grammy at the age of twenty for ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand‘. This achievement, however, was not celebrated to the nines much like any achievement that Will Smith added to the rap industry. While he is remembered for the life he brought now, the star recalled in his memoir titled Will how he was considered an “illegitimate artist” because he was “not a gangster” and didn’t “sell drugs.

Rap, at that time, was considered a weapon of power for those who had to fight an uphill battle from the moment they were born. And given that Smith had been brought up in a middle-class household with educated parents, his music was deemed as “soft, whack, corny” by his peers.

DIVE DEEPER

What Happened When Kanye West Pushed Will Smith to Rap Again?

7 months ago

The promise to his grandmother, and the top ranking on the Billboard charts, helped in his pursuit of making fun rap songs. But for all the great songs he gave the world, Smith has not made a return to rap in decades.

Why did the Fresh Prince quit?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The name, Will Smith, is now tied to the actor who wreaked havoc at the box office and also at the 94th Academy Awards. Despite Fresh Prince having 4 Grammy awards and a treasure box of great music, he has come to be known as his own parody owing to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which transitioned him into an actor. And soon enough, Will Smith proved that he wasn’t just good at making fresh music, but also a virtuoso at acting.

While he never formally quit, as he took on larger-than-life roles, rapping was pushed to a hobby, with a barely there comeback in 2018. The once-upon-a-rapper became the definition of a good actor. This is how The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gave the world one of its most applauded actors at the expense of the Fresh Prince.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

DIVE DEEPER

Will Smith May Just Be the Answer to Why Negative Rap Is Promoted More Than Positive Rap

5 months ago

Do you prefer Will Smith as an actor or as a rapper? Let us know in the comments below.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Aliza Siddiqui

972 articles

Meet Aliza Siddiqui, a Hollywood News reporter at Netflix Junkie. Her love affair with Hollywood began with Anne Hathaway and The Princess Diaries, but it was the thrilling climax of Don’t Look Up that cemented her infatuation with the industry and its filmmaking. Aliza's journey into entertainment reporting began with her time at Otakukart, where she wrote over a thousand articles.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORS' PICK