After the disappointingly uneven And in This Corner...
, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
restarted their commercial momentum with Homebase
, which fitted Will Smith
's rhymes with up-to-date, radio-friendly production and a much richer overall sound. For the first time, the album's key single wasn't a comic narrative: "Summertime" was a warm, breezy reminiscence about growing up in Philadelphia and attending barbecues where the whole community showed up to see and be seen. It had all the good vibes of a typical Fresh Prince
number, but it was clearly a more mature effort, and that's Homebase
in a nutshell. The smoothed-out R&B background of "Summertime" provides a template for the record's poppier moments, and there's a thumping new club influence on the dancefloor cuts. Lyrically, when he's not trying to move your butt, Smith
paints himself as more of a ladies' man, in keeping with his new young-adult persona. If he's still more innocent than LL Cool J
, he's throwing out all his best lines on the single "Ring My Bell" and trying to play the field on "A Dog Is a Dog." And there are a few story songs, like "Who Stole the DJ" and "You Saw My Blinker," that benefit from the fresher-sounding beats. While it doesn't have the youthful, old-school charm of He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
is a successful reinvention that laid the groundwork for Smith
's multimedia stardom as an adult.