Will Smith Admits He Hated Quincy Jones' Original "Fresh Prince" Theme

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On the Set of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
HOLLYWOOD - OCTOBER 20: Actor Will Smith and music/television producer Quincy Jones break from filming "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" on October 20, 1990 at Columbia/Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood, California. (photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
It would have sounded very different.

Quincy Jones saw something in Will Smith. The legendary producer knew talent when he saw it, and he knew Smith had what it took to be a crossover sensation. He was right. He cast Smith as the star of the classic sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the rest is history. The show ran for six seasons, and the actor went on to become one of the biggest stars in the world. Smith has always spoke highly of Quincy Jones and the influence he had, but he recently admitted that he disagreed with the producer on one major detail. Smith hated the original theme song to his own show.

The revelation came about during Smith's appearance on Hot 97. The actor was promoting his new film, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, and he reflected on his star-making TV role. He claimed he was in awe of Quincy Jones, especially given his pedigree. "He was mentoring me," Smith stated. "Quincy had done a theme song for Fresh Prince. And you know, Quincy did Sanford and Son; Quincy did a 1,000 things that you don’t even know." Everything was great, until Smith listened to the theme song Jones had in mind. "So Quincy plays a theme song for The Fresh Prince," he noted. "It was that old school... So I listened and I was like, 'Ohhh… wow…. yeah.'" The future superstar was worried.

Will Smith Made An Alternate Theme That Quincy Loved

Smith's solution was to turn to his musical partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff. "Jeff was at the hotel and I was like, 'Jeff, Quincy played a theme song. Dude, it’s no good at all,'" he told Hot 97. "Jeff was like, 'Just tell him, man, he’ll understand.' I was like, 'There ain’t no way I’m telling Quincy Jones […] I can’t do it, man. Quincy knows better than I know.'" Smith's fear was understandable, given that Jones was helping him get his foot in the door. DJ Jazzy Jeff then solved the problem by making a new beat for Smith to rap over. The duo made the song in one evening, and decided to show it to Jones as an alternative.

It was a stressful first listen. "So I played it for Quincy and he sat there and listened and I’m shaking and sweating," Smith explained. "And he said, 'Well, that’s better than that bullshit I did.' ... We did a whole record [with] a second verse, so Quincy made the edit and that became the theme song." Smith's gut proved correct, as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song went on to become one of the most iconic themes of all time. It was even included on the DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince greatest hits album.

About The Author
Elias is a music writer at HotNewHipHop. He joined the site in 2024, and covers a wide range of topics, including pop culture, film, sports, and of course, hip-hop. You can find him publishing work for HNHH from Monday to Friday, especially when it comes to the coverage of new albums and singles. His favorite artists are Andre 3000, MF Doom, pre-808s Kanye West and Tyler, The Creator. He loves L.A. hip-hop but not L.A. sports teams. The first album he ever bought was Big Willie Style by Will Smith, which he maintains is still a pretty good listen.