We last heard from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince in 1991 with their platinum selling album Homebase, whose commercial success was directly linked to the album’s hit first single “Summertime”. Not only did the duo have a successful album under their belt, but The Fresh Prince also had one of the hottest TV shows on television at the time (if you don’t know what show I’m referring to I’m going to ask you to do a little research), so the world was pretty much at their feet. So, what would they do next? Release another album, of course.
Even though it did earn the duo a gold plaque, compared to Homebase, Code Red was a bit of a commercial flop, and the critics and fans didn’t think highly of it, either. Code Redwould be the final album from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince as a group, though they would both go on to release solo projects afterwards. And The Fresh Prince bka Will Smith, was just beginning his rise to superstardom.
Somethin’ Like Dis – Wow, I had no idea that Pete Rock produced this song. Unfortunately, it’s not one if his stronger pieces of work, but I probably wouldn’t waste my best work on Will, I mean, The Fresh Prince’s flimsy rhymes, either.
I’m Looking For The One (To Be With Me) – This was the second single released from Code Red. If you absolutely hate this song, I completely understand. It does meddle in the road of cheesy R&B and hip-hop, but I kind of like it. Specifically, I like Teddy Riley’s synthy r&b backdrop, as it has good vibes dripping all over it. I could care less for FP’s weak rhymes, but the instrumental is definitely suitable for your summertime old school mix, if that’s even really a thing.
Boom! Shake The Room – This was the lead single from Code Red, and it sounds even cornier today than it did back in ’93. FP stays consistent, delivering more garbage rhymes (including an embarrassing third verse where he takes on a ridiculous stutter style) and a laughable hook, while Mr. Lee serves up a trash instrumental to match. I’m sure this song is the reason I never checked for Code Red when it came out back in the day.
Can’t Wait To Be With You – More corn. Will Smith, I mean, The Fresh Prince, gets the production credit for this one, as he swipes a loop from Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” for the backdrop, and invites Christopher “I never liked you anyway, pretty muthafucker” Williams to sing on the hook. Pardon me, I had some bad rap and R&B.
Twinkle Twinkle (I’m Not A Star) – On the song “Pride” from his classic DAMN. album, Kendrick Lamar says “I won’t fake humble because your ass is insecure”, and that is exactly what FP does on this song. It’s safe to say that Will Smith (or The Fresh Prince) has been a celebrity since the late eighties, and with the help of his hit TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he was a bona fide star by 1993, and I’m sure he was fully aware of that. Props to DJ Jazzy Jeff for the fresh instrumental, though.
Code Red – I’m so disappointed right now. Before today, I was completely oblivious to the fact that Pete Rock produced two songs on Code Red, with “Somethin’ Like Dis” being the first, and this being the second, and both of them are terrible. FP’s storyline and rhymes on this one are just as terrible.
Shadow Dreams – FP uses this one to inspire the listener to chase their dreams. I’m not sure why he decided to take on the monotone delivery for this one, I guess that’s his serious voice? Regardless of how simple his lyrics are, kudos to FP for the positive message, and strong props to Hula and K. Fingers for the dope instrumental.
Just Kickin’ It – Hula and K. Fingers keep the good times rolling with this smooth backdrop that FP uses to spit his strongest rhymes of the entire album over. Even if you don’t like FP’s rhymes, if you have a soul, you’ll feel the beautiful instrumental.
Ain’t No Place Like Home – This is easily my favorite song on Code Red. Xavier Hargrove hooks up a laid back soulful instrumental that FP starts off reminiscing over, and that quickly leads to him getting home sick and making his way back home to Philly to catch up with the family. Yes, the rhymes are a bit sloppy and a little cheesy at points, but they’re heartfelt, which allows you (or at least, me) to overlook the flaws in them. I never get tired of listening to this one.
I Wanna Rock – FP pays homage to Jazzy Jeff, as he also gets to displays some of the DJ skills that make many consider him one of the best to ever do it. This was decent.
Scream – Dallas Austin gets a production credit for this one. It’s not a bad song, it’s just that it’s not that good, either.
Boom! Shake The Room (Street Remix) – As Trip from Juice so elegantly put it: “Just ’cause you pour syrup on shit doesn’t make it pancakes”.
There are way too many bad songs on Code Red to justify its twelve song length. While there are a handful of quality instrumental, FP’s rhymes are consistently bad throughout. Maybe Hollywood was taking his focus away from the bars. I mean, he was never a top-tier lyricist, but I’m sayin’. Code Red might have worked as a five or six song EP, but as a full length album, not even close.