Today In Hip-Hop: ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Debuts On Television

On this day, September 10, in hip-hop history…

1990: The success Will Smith—a.k.a. The Fresh Prince—had enjoyed as a rapper in the 1980s had lead him to spend his money uncontrollably and he soon found himself in hot water with the IRS. Owing over $2.8 million dollars to the federal government, Smith was on the verge of bankruptcy when television executives at NBC approached him about starring in a television show loosely based on his life. Smith agreed and The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air was on the airwaves on September 10, 1990.

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air was a show about a fictionalized version of himself as a street wise kid from West Philadelphia who is forced to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in the rich neighborhood of Bel-Air, Los Angeles, after getting into a fight. The show features Smith as a fish out of water trying to adapt to a lifestyle that clashes with his own.

The show was a big success for NBC garnering strong ratings over six seasons on the network. The show helped transform Will Smith from his days as a rapper to a legitimate comedic actor and set the tone for his transition into the movies in the mid-1990s. The show continues to live on in syndication and is perhaps best known for its iconic theme song performed by Will Smith before the opening of each show.