Will Smith to return to rap with tour

Will Smith (above) will reunite with DJ Jazzy Jeff to perform as a duo.
Will Smith (above) will reunite with DJ Jazzy Jeff to perform as a duo.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Will Smith, who put rap in the mainstream as television's The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and has since become a global movie star, is returning to music with a tour.

He has announced that his former duo, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, will reunite for their first tour.

"We never actually had a chance to go out and do a full tour," he told talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres.

The duo in 1987 put out their first album, Rock The House, and within three years, Smith was the star of the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, leading to a lucrative career in Hollywood.

"In that time, we just...were getting started and I never actually had a chance to go on tour, so I really want to get out there and do it for real," he said.

Smith, who did not announce dates for the tour, said that the duo would perform old hits, but that he also had "a stash" of new songs.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince won a wide following in the United States in the late 1980s as hip-hop was becoming mainstream.

Amid media scrutiny over rap's language and subject matter, the duo enjoyed ample radio play for clean-cut songs such as Parents Just Don't Understand, which won the first Grammy for Best Rap Performance.

Smith, who initially took to TV after nearly going bankrupt through spending his newfound wealth, has since starred in blockbuster films such as the Men In Black series, as well as the dramas Ali (2001) and The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006), for which he earned Oscar nominations.

He has released four solo albums, the last in 2005, and said earlier this year he had been working in a studio with rapper Kanye West.

Smith last month also made a brief return to rap as he collaborated on a song with Colombian band Bomba Estereo.

His former bandmate DJ Jazzy Jeff, whose real name is Jeff Townes, has toured in recent years as a solo artist.

In a recent interview, DJ Jazzy Jeff hinted that the tour would take place next year, once Smith finishes promotion for his new film, the American football drama Concussion, which comes out on Christmas Day.

"We're going to sit down at the top of the year and map it out at first and then hopefully hit the road," DJ Jazzy Jeff said.

The duo last performed together in a brief, surprise set in 2013 on The Graham Norton Show on the BBC.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Will Smith to return to rap with tour'. Print Edition | Subscribe