‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Lyrics Included the Basketball Court as an Homage to Will Smith’s Favorite Old School Rap Classic

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song is one of Will Smith’s most memorable raps. It’s up there with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Although, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air lyircs may have an unfair advantage. The theme song played every week for six seasons, and forever in syndication. Now, Smith reveals the inspiration for one of its iconic lines. 

Will Smith shrugs his shoulders in a 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' still
Will Smith | Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank

Smith wrote about his life and career in his new autobiography, Will. Early in the book, he describes his rap influences and shares the Grandmaster Caz rap that influenced The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme. 

Will Smith paid homage to Grandmaster Caz in ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ lyrics

Smith called Grandmaster Caz’s “Yvette” his biggest influence in rap. So, by the time he wrote the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air lyrics, he made sure to pay homage to his hero. 

“There’s probably no need to point out the similarities, but to gild the proverbial lily: I always loved that Caz was on a basketball court when he makes the call to Yvette,” he wrote. “So in the theme song for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I put my character on a basketball court, too – a quiet homage to the legend. 

These ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ lyrics are straight from Grandmaster Caz

Will gets sent to Bel-Air after a fight on a basketball court. “[I was] shooting some B-ball outside of the school when a couple of guys, they were up to no good, started making trouble in my neighborhood.” Smith quoted the lyrics to “Yvette” in his book so you could see his influence. 

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It was a long time ago, but I’ll never forget

I got caught in the bed with this girl named Yvette

I was scared like hell, but I got away

That’s why I’m here talking to you today…

I was outside of my school, shootin’ up the rock

A crowd of people gathered round listenin’ to my box

It was me, the L, the A, and the Al’

And then I slipped away to make a phone call

And to this very day it was a move I regret

But I didn’t know it then, so I called Yvette.

Grandmaster Caz, Yvette

Grandmaster Caz taught Will Smith to tell stories in rap

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince songs told entire stories. The Grammy-winning “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was an epic about Smith getting in trouble with his folks. They also retold the Nightmare on Elm Street saga in “Nightmare on My Street.” So, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air lyrics tell the story of the show. “In west Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days.”

“Grandmaster Caz was single-handedly, undeniably, the greatest influence of my hip-hop life,” he wrote. “He was the prototype for the Fresh Prince. He was one of hip-hop’s first storytellers. Caz was witty, he was clever, his verses took you on a journey; you’d be on the edge of your seat listening to him rap, always wondering what was gonna happen next. And most of all, my dude knew how to land a punch line. I wanted to be just like Caz.”

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Long before The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air lyrics, “Yvette” influenced DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. In “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” Smith also raps a story about his romantic calamities. 

“Basically, I studied every single line of a Grandmaster Caz mixtape freestyle called ‘Yvette’ and then wrote my own version of his story,” he wrote. “I guess why I connected to him so much was that I had had a similar experience to what he described in ‘Yvette,’ but it never dawned on me to write a rhyme about it. In a way, Caz validated and unleashed a creative part of me that I never thought anybody would care about. He made it OK to be me.”