When pgLang franchise artist and 2021 HipHopDX Rookie Of The Year award winner Baby Keem unleashed his anthemic “Range Brothers” single featuring Kendrick Lamar from his critically acclaimed album The Melodic Blue last September, he triggered a domino effect.
Not only did the record infiltrate Billboard by cracking the Hot 100 and Hot R&B and Hip Hop songs Charts among others, it quickly became a trending topic on Twitter and morphed into a source for memes based on listener’s reception of Kendrick Lamar’s unique ad-libs.
Both Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar got the last laugh in the end as The Melodic Blue debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and “Range Brothers” continued to carry on a life of its own by becoming the go-to banger for everyone from The Weekend to the cast of Peacock’s upcoming Bel-Air series.
During a panel interview with HipHopDX at a set visit in early December, cast members from the series such as Run Hide Fight actor Olly Sholotan [Carlton Banks], spoke about how music from multiple artists played a role in the early production of the show.
Starting off with K Dot and Keem, Olly Sholotan explained how “Range Brothers” helped him bond with Jabari Banks, who has assumed the reimagined, dramatized role of Will Smith’s character from the original ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“The first, the week when we started filming was when ‘Range Brothers’ came out,” he said. “And the first week was pretty much me and Bari and it was just all ‘Range Brothers’ the whole time, which is just really funny. And still now it’s like, ‘Top the morning, top the morning,’ [Laughing].”
Olly also revealed artists such as Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and none other than The Weeknd, were also mainstays on his personal playlists in addition to the playlists created for his character, the new Carlton Banks.
“Just because I love sharing music, I love Saint JHN right now,” he said in part. “I think ‘Blinding Lights’ is the best song that has ever been written. That’s just me personally.”
In regards to his character, Olly Sholotan revealed he and the director of the series, Morgan Cooper, tapped into Carlton’s taste in music by creating playlists.
“One day, Morgan was like, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you like playlists, but I made this playlist for Carlton,’ and like seven of the songs that were on his playlist were on mine also.” Olly continued, detailing the specific tracks “So it coincided perfectly with mine. We both had a lot of Kanye West for Carlton, specifically ‘Hold My Liquor.’ A lot of Kid Cudi. It’s funny, though, No Kids See Ghosts, but both of them have that sort of dark duality.”
The first teasers for Bel-Air have all featured Hip Hop-facing soundtrack choices, with the original trailer adapting J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive classic “No Role Modelz” and subsequent trailers featuring music from Grammy Award-winning superstar Nas and Philadelphia rap mainstay Meek Mill.
In an upcoming exclusive, the director of Bel-Air expands on how his life in Kansas City and love for artists such as Kid Cudi, Mac Dre and Freeway influenced his decision-making process while hand-picking the tracks to compliment the biggest moments in the series.
Inspired by Morgan Cooper’s viral trailer reimagining the ’90s sitcom as a drama, the new Bel-Air series utilizes a raw approach to Will’s complex journey to Bel-Air, from West Philadelphia, through a modern lens.
The first three episodes of Bel-Air will be available for streaming on Peacock following Super Bowl LVI on February 13.