RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, May 11

EWA100 - #49. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime

49. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime (Jive. 1991. From the LP Homebase)

Raven Mack: Let me be honest here for the first time in my life about this song... I'm a teenager, and we live in the country and the American World had yet to reach that point where even refrigerator boxes underneath an interstate overpass had a satellite dish on them, so all I got to watch on the TV was whatever the metal antenna contraption on top of the house could harvest from the sky. No MTV, and I doubt I even knew BET existed back then, if it even did, but I got on Saturday nights whatever that rap video show was that was hosted by that Dee Barnes chick that Dr. Dre beat up. They played this video forever on that show, and even though I was far enough into adolescence to strive to be the coolest, meaning I liked cutting edge shit and wore my hair funny, because like any teenager ever on the earth, fuck my parents, you know? So outwardly, I would never admit to ever paying attention to this video or song, or much less even liking it, because yo, this is that stupid Fresh Prince dude always rapping that cornball shit about going clothes shopping for school or in that show that had Carlton and Lennox Lewis' dad as the butler, so fuck a "Summertime". But you know what? I love this song. This might actually be the only song by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince I would admit to liking, and that's after being learned the history of hip hop and thinking Jazzy Jeff may or may not have been the inventor of the transformer scratch.
It's kind of funny to compare and contrast the outlook on life between this song and "It Was A Good Day" by Ice Cube, both of which are warm weather, feel-good hits, but Cube's is all happy about not having to shoot people or getting your car stolen or having some sex with a girl you just got all high, and Jeff and Will's ditty is about cookouts and flirting with pretty girls. "Summertime" is more about feeling good to your heart, whereas Cube's anthem is more about not having things get in the way of you getting your's. Two entirely different concepts. "Summertime" is not manifest destiny, corporate greed on the grass roots level, Grand Theft Auto: New Jack City-onomics, but instead just actual carefree happiness, all tingly in the moment. And as much as I hate shit like that, "Summertime" can break through that even in a jaded blackheart like me, and make me yearn for a nice breeze, sitting a picnic table with nowhere to go any time soon, not even when the sun goes down or maybe comes back up either.

Mike Dikk: If you’re skipping around and you missed my previous “Straight Outta Compton” write up, you might want to go back and read that, since I lightly touched on the album this single came from, and elements from that write up may or may not continue on to this one.
I never had a problem with The Fresh Prince’s early goofy rapping nonsense. Even at age 9, I could see that all of his songs were essentially the same song over and over again. I was a big fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street films so I was arbitrarily a fan of “Nightmare on My Street”. I thought Mike Tyson was the coolest so I was arbitrarily a fan of “I Think I Could Beat Mike Tyson”. I knew parents didn’t understand, so I was arbitrarily a fan of “Parents Just Don’t Understand”.
See? It’s all the same shit. Take some topic that appeals to a nine-year-old, make a goofy colorful video and BAM! Instant hit. There was a place for a rapper like that back in the '80s. All of the Fresh Prince songs were harmless fun, and though, the critical asshole in me would say none of them are exactly essential, I still remember a good amount of lyrics from most of those songs.
There’s no one like that these days. Even bubble gum rappers who are meant to appeal to “tweeners” still sing about fucking. It’s all about fucking in the 21st century. There is no one rapping about Freddy Krueger, and if they were to rap about Freddy Krueger, it would most definitely be about fucking Freddy Krueger... in his ass.
I don’t know if all this was pre-meditated, and Will Smith knew these songs would lead to a surprise hit TV show or not, but that’s what it did. Soon after that, he lost all his street cred, which is a weird occurrence, since he really did just make songs for 9-year-olds, but either way, he wasn’t considered a “real” rapper anymore after his television success. No one thought The Fresh Prince could successfully return to rapping, because I guess that sitcom money would have gotten to his head and he couldn’t relate to the previous 9-year-olds he used to make songs for.
Then DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released “Summertime”, which was basically their swan song big hit single before Will kicked Jeff to the curb like Uncle Phil did periodically on episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and to use a tired commercial phrase, it was quite the Monster Jam. Not only did The Fresh Prince Will Smith manage to successfully return to rapping, but he made a song that appealed to people above the age of 9. I would go as far as saying this song appealed to an age bracket as high as 15 to 16.
The Will Smith of today is a very rich man who gets paid a lot to make movies and I believe at one point he was even nominated for an Oscar, so talking about his past music career is kind of uncomfortable for most people who take music seriously. Because of that, this song will get shit on, but anyone who would shit on this song secretly likes it. It is virtually unhateable, and publicly berating this song is much akin to how closet gays will pick on an outed gay to make themselves seem less gay somehow. It’s okay to be gay these days, and it’s okay to admit you like “Summertime”.
On a personal level, this entire record kicks up some bad memories for me, and you’ll know why if you did as I instructed and read my “Straight Outta Compton” blurb, but if you didn’t, there’s a good chance I got this LP in place of the Straight Outta Compton LP one Christmas. I am not ashamed to publicly praise “Summertime”, but the full length record Homebase is still a festering pile of shit.

Download: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime

Watch the video: (BONUS: CLICK HERE to see the making of the Summertime video)

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