“Drums please.” And with that begins DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s massive hit, “Summertime” from their album Homebase. It’s hard to fathom that the tune was released 20 years ago, but it hit the airwaves in May of 1991 and the video debuted in July of that year. Built on a sample of Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness”, the song is an ode to all things related to those hot summer months including carefree relaxing, ridiculously skimpy clothing, fun-filled cookouts and competitive games of basketball at the park (with added female spectators!).
The video opens with Will and Jeff up to their usual, playful antics that made them so lovable as Will and Jazz on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before cutting to the duo seemingly coasting through the city on a platform with refreshing drinks in hand, taking in the sights. Throughout the clip, we see many of the aforementioned elements of summer (in slow motion!) along with kids running around playing, people dancing in Soul Train lines, open fire hydrants and pretty girls cruising down the street at “two miles per hour, so everybody sees you”.
While Will and Jeff have gone their separate ways, with Will being an international movie star and Jeff becoming a worldwide ambassador for hip-hop, “Summertime” may very well be their crowning achievement. Many others have tried to carve out their own hip-hop summer anthem, but “Summertime” remains the champion and likely will continue to be the quintessential summer jam for many years to come.