Will Smith shares his wisdom.
During a day off from shooting his new film Gemini Man in Budapest, the iconic rapper-actor sat down for a wide-ranging interview with TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast where he discussed his return to hip-hop. Smith is currently in the studio recording new material, and has been inspired by social media and the 7-track album formats recently popularized by Kanye West.
“I just started writing again, just tryna find the way to say the stuff that’s in my mind,” he said. “I’m burning again creatively, and I have outlets that I’ve never had before.”
The 49-year-old legend, who has become an Instagram sensation, also opened up about his family life and the secret to a happy marriage. He and wife Jada Pinkett Smith recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
Plus, he reflected on the legacy of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” his father’s death, and today’s rappers including J. Cole and Drake.
On new music: “‘Summertime’ and ‘Brand New Funk’ are the two [classic] records I’ve made and I think I got more in me. I’m in the studio now and I have real things to say. That’s the thing that’s gonna be new and different and interesting about the music that I create going forward.”
On why he joined social media: “Social media demands authenticity. Social media pushes you more and more into having you reveal what’s true. ‘Cause if you don’t, TMZ is going to. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m actually enjoying the push. Nobody’s happy that doesn’t get to be themselves. I’m enjoying the social demand for authenticity.”
On being criticized as ‘soft’: “That was a difficult time coming up. … It was always difficult [to hear] people say I was soft and my music was cotton candy. I always wanted to fight to prove myself. Fighting yourself to maintain positivity is the hardest fight you ever gon’ have. That struggle to just stay my course, be the person in the world that I wanted to be no matter what people said. I started to call it offensive positivity.”
On ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’: “I had no idea that ‘Fresh Prince’ would have that kind of impact. When I look back on it, I can see. It was like, ‘Duh.’ The intracultural racism between the rich blacks and poor blacks and the idea of being uprooted and put into the full mainstream white world, I can see where those ideas would make for a rich show.”
On Trump and his father’s death: “My father died on Nov. 7 and Trump was elected on Nov. 8. I literally don’t know which one of those was worse for me. That time was a deep changing for me in my life. My father dying sort of released me to be me.”
On Jaden’s Batman outfit that he wore to Kanye and Kim’s wedding: “Ye was cool. ‘Yo, I love that!’ Kim was a little bit like, ‘Jaden…'”
On he and Jada’s 20th wedding anniversary: “We don’t even say we’re married anymore. We refer to ourselves as life partners, where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life. There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do—ever. Nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support till death and it feels so good to get to that space.”
On Drake: “Drake I think has had the most interesting success in the last four or five years. It’s so hard to sustain success today. The social media part of it is such a burn that it’s hard to sustain. The fact that Drake has been able to sustain is really interesting to me. It’s why I like working in the Instagram, 60-second format. You get to feed it, but you’re not burning 15, 18 minutes worth of content.”