Music

‘Fresh Prince’ Is Known For Its Iconic Theme Song. You Won’t Hear It In ‘Bel-Air’

The new theme song for Bel-Air fits the more dramatic approach of the reboot in comparison to the playfulness of the original.

When you think of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air what’s likely to immediately come to mind is its original theme song. You can already hear DJ Jazzy Jeff’s bouncy and playful production set to Will Smith’s rotating throne in the show’s opening, the actor and rapper about to rap a verse that has since become iconic.

Although the theme song has been used to promote the Bel-Air reboot that premieres this weekend (Sunday, February 14) — first as a dramatic rendition by Will himself, followed by a remix version with fans across the world — the show doesn’t actually include an updated version of the original, instead using Easy MCcoy‘s “Deja Vu” for its theme song.

“Deja Vu,” which is produced by B. Jones and features TYuS, wasn’t originally made for the Bel-Air reboot. MCcoy had recorded the song with B. Jones (who is a friend of Bel-Air creator Morgan Cooper) three-and-a-half years ago on a project MCcoy was working on called The Experience.

“It was not intended for Bel-Air — it was a song that was a story about my life and the plight of a young Black man in America,” MCcoy said in an email.

How “Deja Vu” became Bel-Air‘s theme song begins with the short fan trailer Cooper shared back in 2019 that led to the reboot’s creation. He had asked Jones what he was working on, and the producer sent him a rough version of the song.

“Morgan said he wanted to use the song for a secret project he [was] working on, which turned out to be the Bel-Air YouTube [trailer] he released,” MCcoy said.

Now, the song is the theme for the Bel-Air TV series. Where the original’s opening theme soundtracked the entirety of its introduction, only the chorus of “Deja Vu” is used in the series’ opening, which only really lasts seconds before getting into the episode. In its brevity, it might seem like a strange choice. But in full the song fits well with the reboot’s more dramatic approach, MCcoy telling the story of a young boy who succeeds against adversity. But it’s the opening lines that he raps that capture what Bel-Air is about:

“Youngin’ came up strong
With a will to live
Daddy never came home
Mama in the pen
So his relative got him ‘fore the devil did
The streets ain’t safe just to be playing in”

In its very first episode, Bel-Air essentially flips the original’s opening sequence on its head. It’s no longer the comedically over-the-top altercation that finds Will excitedly stepping out of a taxi at the steps of the Banks’ Bel-Air home. It’s a serious moment that jeopardizes Will’s present and future, leading to him having to uproot his life to go somewhere we he feels he doesn’t belong. “Deja Vu” captures this while also being motivational, embodying some of the show’s more lighthearted and uplifting moments that come with its heavier subject matter.

Coming out of something as successful and impactful as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, it’s inevitable that there’s going to be some pressure to create something that, at the very least, is received well. By going with a new theme song, Bel-Air is showing that it wants to be seen as something much more than nostalgia fodder, carving out its own path that shows promise.

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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