Hollywood, CA – 2017 was another monumental year for Will Smith. Bad Boys 3: Bad Boys For Life and Bad Boys 4 have been announced, he was cast to reprise Robin Williams’ epic role as Genie in the Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin reboot, his son Jaden dropped one of the best debut albums that Hip Hop has heard in quite some time with SYRE, and most pressingly, his Netflix exclusive movie Bright is aiming to redefine the way we digest cinema.
HipHopDX was able to catch up with the Fresh Prince at the press conference for his straight-to-Netflix debut to discuss the film, the current political state of our country, his career as a rapper, and his kids.
As a dual threat in music and film, we haven’t heard a peep from Big Willie on wax since 2005 (outside of his widely panned EDM-meets-riddim collision course “Get Lit” with DJ Jazzy Jeff back in October). However, we could all see that change in the next year.
“I’ve been sniffing around it,” Will tells HipHopDX when asked about the potential to return to music full-time. “I’ve been getting hyped about it. It [has] been a minute. I’ve been full in the actor’s mind so me and Jeff start going out a little bit in the last six-to-eight months [and] we’ve been doing something. I just gotta find that lane; find that way back in. It’s a part of my heart. I love it. I make records all the time. I got a ton of stuff that I make at the house. It’s just not stuff that I’m hyped about to be able to feel comfortable letting it into the world. I’m trying to find that inspiration, that thing that sparks me to get back [to music].”
It’s a rarely celebrated fact but DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were the first winners of Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance back in 1989. The fact they’re still willing to get busy in the studio speaks volumes for their love for the culture.
In his musical absence, Will and Jada’s children have been waving the Smith family flag. Willow released her latest Roc Nation-backed album The 1st this past Halloween and Jaden’s album SYRE is one of the more refreshing rap albums of 2017. HipHopDX praised the project for its “soaring harmonies and dark, moody production” and Jaden’s penchant for brooding lyrics in the official album review.
With a household full of lyrical ability, Will explains his sonic connection with his kids and how they inspire him: “No, I’m way better than them,” Will jokingly quips when asked if he’s competitive with his kids. “That’s a joke, not competitive. When I see those kids they actually inspire me. I don’t feel like Jada and I were teaching [it] but Jaden, of all the people I’ve ever met in my life, I’ve met very few people who legitimately do not care what people think. I’m looking in his eyes and I’m like, ‘You have to care a little bit.’ It is unadulterated freedom that I’m actually jealous of. He is so absolutely [and] thoroughly comfortable being him in a way that I had 20 years ago. But what happens when you start to get successful [is that] you get worked into a lane [and] your lane starts to feel comfortable and it gets a little scary to come out when you’re not going to ring the bell, necessarily, that people want rung. When I’m watching Jaden and it’s like I just love that freedom. He’s inspiring me in a really unique and special way. As a parent, it makes me really proud.”
Bright Is Coming To Netflix
Set to release on December 22, Will Smith’s role in Bright sees the A-lister address racism from the sci-fi lens of an African-American cop living in a Los Angeles filled with mythical characters living amongst humans. “Part of what was exciting to me about this role is that the Elves represent the haves and the Orcs represent the have-nots – and the humans are actually in the middle,” Smith exclaims. “So, I’m an African-American police officer but I’m racist against Orcs. For that flip, was really fun to play around with. It was a unique mindset that, as an African-American man, I’m not in that position often. To be able to look at it and sort of channel inner Nick Nolte from 48 Hours [is interesting]. Science Fiction is fun [because] you get to look at those things and you can go really far without it actually registering as preaching.”
Photo: Matt Kennedy/Netflix
Will also goes into his take on the current state of affairs in America: “I actually have a little bit of a brighter perspective of where [the world is] right now. This is the purge. This is the cleanse. This is what happens. This is the natural reaction to the amount of light that came into the world when Barack Obama was the President. This is what happens. From the lowest perspective, we had to expect that it was going to go the other way but it’s going the other way as a purge and as a cleanse, this is the darkness before the dawn. When that thing swings back to the other direction, humanity is going to evolve. This is an evolutionary shift in humanity right now. From the agricultural era into the industrial era into the digital age, I feel very, very strongly that we are shifting into what the next age of humanity is going to be and it’s just that the shit has to get stirred up. We’re seeing it all. The truth is right in front of us. Nobody is allowed to ignore what’s true anymore. You don’t even get to debate, ‘alternative facts’ you can say, but people are actually getting to look at it for themselves. Hiding is over. It’s going to be really interesting to see how humanity reacts to it. It’s going to be a fucking mess but it’s the mess in the cleanup. It’s the mess and the purge before that new, real light shows up.”
You can see Will’s latest movie Bright from the comfort of your home on December 22nd courtesy of Netflix. For more music, news, and exclusive interviews like this, be sure to keep it locked on HipHopDX.