Will Smith Reveals The Last Time He Cursed In His Raps And Why He Stopped

David Letterman’s Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, premiered its fourth season last Friday, tapping musical guests Cardi B and Billie Eilish, actors Ryan Reynolds and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and NBA star Kevin Durant for in-depth conversations and hilarious shenanigans. One guest who straddles the line between actor, musician, and even athlete is Will Smith (y’all saw that episode of Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air where Will is his school’s basketball star), who discusses the audition for his game-changing sitcom, going to therapy, and his rap origins.

Emerging in the late ’80s as one-half of the often-comedic rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince, Smith rose to stardom behind such wholesome hits as “A Nightmare On My Street.” However, as rap had begun to take a turn into harder-edged fare, the Grammy winners were often ridiculed for being “soft,” something that Smith has admitted in the past weighed on him. When Dave asks whether Will and Jeff felt any pressure to change lanes, Will offers that while he didn’t feel any pressure to change, he disliked that characterization.

“I hated that, being called soft,” he says. “The origin of my style and why I pursued it in that way [is] when I was about 12, my grandmother, she found my first rap book… I couldn’t even curse well. It was like, ‘Shit ass damn/Will, you the man.’ Not even good cursing. My grandmother found my rap book and wrote a letter in [the] front of my book and said, ‘Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like these to express themselves. Please show the world that you’re as smart as we think you are. Love, Gigi.’ And that was the reason I never cursed in any of my records.”

You can check out the full episode here.