Will Smith Was Sued for a Song Inspired by ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’
Will Smith was once part of a rap duo called DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince which recorded a song based on the A Nightmare on Elm Street films. They got sued over it. Despite Freddy Krueger’s popularity, the public did not see the music video for the song for years.
The controversy behind Will Smith’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ song
As far as music goes, the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is most known for its musical score. However, a handful of notable artists have contributed songs to the soundtracks of A Nightmare on Elm Street films. One of the most notable was the 1990s rap group The Fat Boys. They released a song called “Are You Ready For Freddy” at the same time DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released their A Nightmare on Elm Street-themed song “A Nightmare on My Street.” In an interview with The Boombox, DJ Jazzy Jeff discussed the difficulties he and Smith faced because of The Fat Boys’ song.
“[B]oth of the songs come out at the same time and now you got all these radio stations around the country doing contests, like what ‘Nightmare’ song do you like the best?” he recalled. “And what happened is we started beating the Fat Boys in the contest and [A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s production company] New Line Cinema was backing the Fat Boys. And before we got into the lawsuit, we were trying to tell them ‘Yo, why don’t we put the music in the movie or why don’t we kinda say that this is another instead of you suing us.’ Like, you’re actually gonna hurt it, this is helping your movie.”
Ultimately, New Line Cinema sued DJ Jazzy Jeff and Smith. Subsequently, they paid the studio some money. In addition, New Line Cinema offered DJ Jazzy Jeff and Smith film roles which they declined.
The video that eventually resurfaced
Interestingly, the video for “A Nightmare on My Street” remained obscure for decades. “I had a copy of the video and I had an old girlfriend that taped soap operas over it,” DJ Jazzy Jeff said. “Will had a copy of the video and gave it to his dad and his dad lost it, but I don’t know anyone who has that video.” He said only a few people had seen the video.
Regardless of the lack of music video promotion, “A Nightmare on My Street” reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985. This is impressive, as music videos were key to promoting songs in the 1980s. It’s especially impressive when you realize very few pop hits center on horror movies. In addition, The Verge reports the video surfaced online in 2018. The world can finally see the video — even if “A Nightmare on My Street” didn’t need the video to perform well on the charts.