(Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Old School Archives

Why Will Smith said rapping is easier than acting

Will Smith is a soul who should be celebrated for his work in both the music game, Hollywood and for enriching everything he does with his presence.

Rapping was his first love, and he even didn’t apply for college because he wanted to focus on his music. Before becoming an A-lister, he was already a successful artist, which he took to new heights after becoming famous, and he never let go of his rap ambitions.

In 1984, he and his childhood friend, Jeffrey Townes, began making music as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. They’d met at a house party when Smith decided to fill in as his hype man, and it was the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

They released their debut album in 1987, and their second record, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper peaked at number four on the Billboard 200. In recent years, Smith has poured all of his energy into his acting career, but, back in the ’90s, he retained a delicate balance, and music was always the one that he found more comfortable.

“It was far easier to do music, to be on stage with a hit record, because you know what you have, right?” Smith once told The Hollywood Reporter. “I know when I drop ‘Summertime’ or when I drop ‘Jiggy’ anywhere in the world, it’s like an ace of spades.”

He continued, “Whereas with a movie, you know, it’s like, you never know. You can love it, you can have done what you think is the best work you’ve ever done, and you put it out on that Friday, and everybody hates it. And you’ve taken a year, and people hate it. They don’t just dislike it, you know, and they wanna be really creative with how they let you know they hate it.”

There’s less risk involved with music, and it’s a no-lose scenario when people have come out exclusively to see you perform. Whereas with films, it’s a lottery how the general public will receive it, and there isn’t that immediacy like there are with concerts.

Smith’s first failure has stuck with him and still stings all these years later. He remembered, “It’s funny because there’s been disappointments, but every time I was disappointed, I came back with a newer, fresher attitude.

“But the first time where it didn’t work the way that I wanted was Wild Wild West. You know, and I was coming off of Men in Black with Barry Sonnenfeld and everything is all ‘we can’t lose, we can’t lose,’ then it’s like ‘oh, tragedy!'”

Even though he’s primarily known for his acting, the thrill of making music remains unparalleled for Smith. Rollback the years, and revisit him in his pomp performing ‘Summertime’ with Jazzy Jeff below.