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Will Smith Admits the Real Reason the 3rd Fresh Prince Album ‘Flopped, Hard’

Will Smith takes stock of his life and career in his autobiography 'Will'. That includes accepting responsibility for the failure of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's third album, 'And In This Corner...' Smith describes the shenanigans making the album and concedes it 'flopped, hard'.

Will Smith’s music success predates all his movie success. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince had two albums and won the first Grammy for rap for “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” They were not indestructible though. You may have noticed you haven’t heard much about their third album, And in This Corner… Smith knows exactly why.

Will Smith points to Jeff Townes who holds his hat brim
L-R: Jeff Townes and Will Smith | Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives

Smith wrote about the production of And in This Corner… in his new autobiography, Will. Looking back, Smith knows exactly what they did wrong.

Will Smith admits DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince goofed off in the Bahamas

Smith describes the recording of And in This Corner… He and Jeff Townes took a trip to the Bahamas to record. However, they spent more time living it up in the Bahamas, eating and drinking. The album suffered for it. It got so bad that Smith’s father even came to the studio to scold them, but it was already too late. 

“While Daddio’s Bahamian intervention had saved us from further immediate catastrophe, the first domino had already been tipped,” he wrote. “With no budget left, we quickly cobbled together the best tracks we could come up with. But there was no real vision or continuity to the album. Me and Jeff were unfocused, and out of sync.”

The difference between ‘And in This Corner…’ and earlier DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince albums

He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper would have been a tough act for any artist to follow. So when And In This Corner… underperformed, it was a huge fall. Plus, both artists owed a lot of back taxes, and now they had no new income.

And in This Corner… was doomed from the start,” he wrote. “And in This Corner… flopped, hard. We were coming off three million records sold — triple platinum sales — and the first-ever Grammy Award in rap. Expectations and investments were very high. And we crashed and burned.”

Smith said he could tell DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were in trouble when they went on tour.

“And in This Corner… came out Halloween 1989 and achieved full crickets,” he wrote. “We knew the album was a swing and a miss. But it didn’t become real until we went out on tour again. The crowds were thinner. People weren’t as hyped to see us. They were no longer singing my lyrics back to me. And our performance feeds were cut by almost 70 percent. We made it OK in our minds by thinking of it as ‘promotion.’”

Will Smith regrets letting himself down the most 

Smith wrote that his greatest regret is that he slacked off while recording And in This Corner… If he and Townes had tried as hard as they had on the first two albums, then he could live with a failure.


Will Smith Remembers the First Words Jada Pinkett Said to Him After a Bad ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Audition, and They Weren’t Nice

The music business is fickle — some records work; some don’t. Sometimes there’s a track that you think is going to be a hit, and no one feels it; then the one you weren’t even thinking about becomes a monster. That’s the natural way, the inevitable ebb and flow of the universe. But if you piss away $300,000 on rum punch and chicken fingers, and your father has to fly in and drag your ass home, and then you throw together a bunch of tracks in your best friend’s mother’s basement, you’re manifesting an unfair fight. It’s two against one; it’s you and the universe versus you. 

Will Smith, Will