I went back and read all 7 previous editions of The Lane, and once finished I realized something about my past: I watched a lot of television! Despite spending countless hours in front of the idiot box I managed to fill my brain with memories I’m able to articulate in these articles. Hopefully they’ve shown I retained at least some semblance of intelligence.
It would be business as usual to recount the night the “Summertime” video world-premiered. I could easily detail how I eagerly looked past the preceding episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, anticipating what Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff would sound like this time around (I was hoping dope like on “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” and not wack like “Parents Just Don’t Understand”).
Seeing Smith dumb-dance down a Soul Train Line in the video was laugh-out-loud funny, yet his return to a more focused flow showcased he retained some semblance of serious MC-ship. The duo’s “new definition of summer madness” glued me to the TV set. When I hear or think of the song to this day though, it’s not the video that elicits the fondest memory.
It’s the feeling I got.
As the Hula & K. Fingers-produced track played on, Smith’s words on top of it became like commands for hypnosis. Only I didn’t get sleepy; I was awakened. I ventured back in time to my grandparents’ backyard during summer month holidays. I could smell the grill cooking various meats. I could see all my relatives gathered together talking and eating. I saw my grandfather and his usual comedic antics – him sort of dumb-dancing to music blaring from their outdoor stereo while we all doubled over with laughter.
When DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince recorded “Summertime” it’s likely they knew they had a potential monster hit on their hands, one with possible decades of longevity. Releasing it as the first single off their fourth album was an honest no-brainer. The true genius of their song plays out once it’s lodged in your head swirling around with the nostalgic feelings it conjures.
From the first time I heard it through today, “Summertime” has remained a greater source of entertainment well beyond its audible and visual intentions. To me (and maybe to you, too) the song is a classic with a fun music video to compliment it, but what’s seen and heard down memory is what makes it endure forever.
–Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for SoulTrain.com, is an acclaimed entertainment and news journalist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker. Also visit TheGrooveSpt.com and ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.