Chronological order: insert after Run D.M.C.’s King of Rock.
After selling more than 3 million albums on their sophomore effort He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper and winning the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for the single “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, Jazzy Jeff and William “Fresh Prince” Smith returned in 89′ with their follow-up And in This Corner. Like it’s predecessor And in This Corner used the same formula: lighthearted-self depreciating-comical raps provided by young William. And in This Corner would not be nearly as commercially successful as it’s predecessor.
Numbers don’t lie.
Then She Bit Me – William picks up where he left off at on He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper
with his comical brand of storytelling, this time over a cheesy instrumental that is meant to give the record a creepy horror-movie type vibe. The only problem is the story isn’t nearly as interesting (or as comical) as “Parents Just Don’t Understand”. The story is all over the place and William even abandons conventional rhyming at certain points before completely deserting his story line and dropping 5th tier battle rhymes, only to hi-lariously throw Jeff under the bus for suggesting he add them into the song because he knew they wouldn’t work, and boy was he right. The song fades out with William mixing parts of different nursery rhymes together before fading out…WTF?
I think I Can Beat Mike – Sticking with the comic relief Mr. Smith spins a fairytale about his fight with then vicious boxing champ, Mike Tyson. The instrumental sucks a lot worse than I remember it sucking back then, and even though William’s story stays focused it’s only mildly interesting and only slightly made me smirk at a few lines. This was the first single off the album and the video helps make the song more interesting. Looking back it’s kind of funny how Tyson went from feared heavyweight boxing champ only to be reduced to making guest appearances in The Hangover movies and VH1’s celebrity roast. Oh, how the mighty fall.
Jazzy’s Grove – Over a rugged yet still smooth Jazzy Jeff instrumental William
sings raps praises to his legendary DJ. William will never be on anyone’s top 10 list but he sounds decent enough over Jazzy’s solid production, making this the most enjoyable song on And in This Corner up to this point.
Everything That Glitters (Ain’t Always Gold) – Now back to our normally scheduled program: William’s back in clown mode as he shares a story of he and a girlfriend’s Island getaway that gets very interesting. The beat blows, but that withstanding William’s story was pretty entertaining and mildly humorous.
You Got It (Donut) – William’s tale of a cheating golddigging honey is easily the most “serious” story on the album. The instrumental sounds very Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air-ish, which isn’t a good thing on a hip-hop album that I would like. Next…
The Girlie Had A Mustache – Jeff’s instrumental samples a familiar James Brown loop for William’s story about…I think you guys can figure that out based on the song title. I’m starting to wonder who would win in a battle: Fresh Prince or Weird Al Yankovic? Yeah, that not as easy to answer as you thought it would be.
The Reverend – Jeff provides an infectious instrumental that is so enjoyable that not even William’s nonsensical rhymes can derail it. This was pretty enjoyable.
Who Stole My Car? – I’ve had my car stolen so I can relate to some of the points William makes on this one as he paints a pretty vivid and comical picture here. Vivid and comical enough to forgive Jazz for the weak instrumental provided.
The Men Of Your Dreams – William and Jazz each spit their best pick up lines to the same lady. Jeff’ (who’s verse I’m sure was written by William) even goes as far as to throw dirt on Will’s game in an attempt to win said lady over: with friends like these. It’s worthy of at least one listen, I guess.
Numero Uno – William’s in battle mode over this stripped down Jazz production, and surprising does a serviceable job. He won’t make any ones top 5 dead or live or anything, but it’s serviceable.
Too Damn Hype – I found it very ironic that the song begins with voices chanting the song title in the most monotone voice ever. This song was very forgettable.
Jeff Waz On The Beat Box – This kind of works as the companion piece to “Jazzy’s Grove” as William raps another ode to his exceptional deejay (he even at one point admits to riding his deejay sack a bit too much) and Jazz puts his turntable techniques on display. This was decent, a bit too long, but a decent way to end the night.
And in This Corner is kind of like the measles: if you’ve never had them you’re not missing much. There are a few decent songs but the majority of the instrumentals are lackluster and William’s comic relief, which worked well on He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, is not effective this time around, and where he once was charismatic he now borders on annoying. Those qualities did come together well to help William get the ball rolling as a successful sitcom star (which later led to him putting Hollywood in his back pocket), so though not a great album some of the pieces translate well to television.