This Star Refused to Be in the Will Smith’s ‘Men in Black’ Music Video

Will Smith is a huge celebrity — but not all celebrities want to work with him. For example, a pair of famous producers almost refused to produce the Men in Black theme for Smith. In addition, A famous singer didn’t want to appear in the video for “Men in Black” for a very specific reason. 

Will Smith in a white suit
Will Smith | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Why two superstar producers were reluctant to work with Will Smith

Men in Black is a big-budget action movie produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment with two huge stars (Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) and some killer special effects. It has extremely broad appeal. However, famous producer duo Poke & Tone didn’t initially want to work on music for the film. In an interview with Complex, Tone discussed his first reaction to the opportunity to work with Smith.

“Will had hooked up with Steve Stoute and Tommy Mottola,” Tone said. “[Poke and I] were making pop hits at the time and they basically wanted us to work with him. We didn’t want it. We looked at it like, ‘What is Will Smith?’ His last hit was ‘Summertime.’ When they asked us to do it we got on the phone with Will and had a conversation.” Poke discussed what it was like when he met Smith.

“Summertime”

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“When Will walked in the door he had some tight, white f*cking pants and a choker on,” Poke recalled. “He was coming from some event and he was like, ‘Yo, listen I’m corny and I know I’m [dressed very] tight right now. I know I’m corny, but whatever you need me to do to make me cool, I’m in.’”

Why a famous singer didn’t want to appear in a music video with Will Smith

While Poke & Tone got over their hesitancy to work with Smith, a famous singer did not. “Homegirl from [the girl group] SWV didn’t even want to be in the video,” Poke said. “She was like, ‘Will Smith? F*ck outta here.’ She sang the [chorus of] record but she was like I’m not doing this video. That was the worst mistake of her life.”

“Men in Black”

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According to the book The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, the “homegirl” in question was Coko of SVW, a group known for hits like “Weak,” “I’m So Into You,” and “You’re the One.” Why exactly did she have such a negative reaction to Smith? The book says hip-hop was dominated by gangsta rap at the time. Thus, Coko didn’t want to appear in the video for “Men in Black” — a song which is way too family-friendly to qualify as gangsta rap — because it would hurt her credibility.

How the public reacted to ‘Men in Black’

Coko’s refusal to appear in the video for the song didn’t hurt it commercially. The track reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart. It remains one of Smith’s best-known tracks. “Men in Black” certainly resonated with the public — even if it supposedly lacked the credibility Coko desired.