B is for: "Boom! Shake The Room" - Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
What, no Be My Baby? My choice for "B" presents the perfect
opportunity to confirm an essential aspect of this A-Z, which is that I intend to compile it instinctively, in a first-thought, best-thought sorta way - this is a list of pop songs that matter to me personally, which spring immediately to mind because they're heavily playlisted on mybrain FM, rather than an exercise in advertising what refined taste I have. So I coulda chosen the undeniably wondrous Phil Spector / Ronettes girl-group classic, and almost did...but the truth is what I always really wanted to pick was Boom! Shake The Room, by Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. So I have.
"The f-f-f-f fresh p-p-p-prince is who I am: so tell my mother that I never wrote a wack jam."
Should an alien race ever require the people of earth to provide a sample of our best work, we would bundle William Smith up onto a rocket ship and send him hurtling off into the cosmos, with a suitcase containing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air DVD box-set, Men In Black, 'Summertime', 'Miami' and this record on 12" vinyl, and a note stapled to his t-shirt saying "Now show us what you've got." Will Smith is about as bankable a celebrity as it's possible to imagine, and B!STR is a Very Commercial Record. It's essentially LL Cool J's Momma Said Knock You Out, already a relatively pop rap single, with every pop hook turned up to 11, an explosion for a chorus, and a lead vocal performance by the most charismatic man on the planet. If hip-hop heads wanna grumble about how "sanitised" Will & Jazz's version of Rap Music is here, let 'em. One of pop music's roles is as a gateway drug to harder, more adult kicks. B!STR was a sneaky toke behind the bikesheds for a generation of Fresh Prince teens, who the very next year were probably nodding out in their bedrooms to the sounds of Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg.