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Summer Jams: The True Story Behind Fresh Prince’s Hit ‘Summertime’

Photo of Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Michael Ochs Archives

I would argue that summer is most people’s favorite of all seasons. Longer days and warmer weather become a perfect reason to create moments and memories.

Some of our best memories of summers past are often triggered every time we hear particular songs — those summer jams that take us back to warm nights spent with a summer love, or songs that remind us of the summer we graduated.

They bring back memories of first experiences, and if they’re good memories, excitement will suddenly wash over our souls, only to be followed by a laugh, if not a warm smile. Weddings, graduations, travel, vacations, reunions and all of the places and spaces we’ve been—for each of them, there is usually a song.

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Here is the story of two such songs. Both are reminders that the best songs and memories are the result of the ability to see or hear what’s already in your grasp, and the desire to take a chance on something new.

Photo of Kool & the Gang
Kool and The Gang Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Such was the case at 5 am one morning when members of the legendary group Kool & the Gang began experimenting with a song they’d already recorded and created a song known as “Summer Madness.”

Twenty years later, a trip to Chicago put a rapper, then known as The Fresh Prince, in direct contact with Wayne Williams, an excited and visionary record executive who risked his job and career to follow his instinct. The result was Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s perennial favorite known as “Summertime.”

'Summertime:' The True Story Behind Two Classic Summer Jams 5:08

Whether winter, spring, summer or fall, sometimes the only person standing in the way of creating moments that may change the world is you. Happy summertime y’all!

Kobie Brown is an entertainment executive by trade, with a passion for writing and creating film. He began his career working for Queen Latifah, and has gone on to work with artists ranging from Alicia Keys and Beyonce to Lauryn Hill and Justin Timberlake.

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