It turns out Smith didn't become the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air after he got in one little fight and his mom got scared. In real life, Smith was broke. After the Grammy Award–winning album, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, brought in tons of cash for Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, Smith splurged...a lot.
"I had motorcycles and cars," Smith says in his latest YouTube "STORYTIME" clip. At one point he even asked a Gucci store in Atlanta to close down for him and his friends. Unfortunately, the next album, And in This Corner..., didn't do so well. "It went like double plastic," said Smith.
But by this time the IRS was on Smith's back for unpaid taxes and ended up taking all the motorcycles, cars, and other pricey things. "Being famous and broke is a shitty combination," said Smith. "Cause you still famous and people recognize you, but they recognize you while you're on the bus."
Luckily, Smith's girlfriend at the time wouldn't let him wallow in his poverty. She told him to head to The Arsenio Hall Show. He went and ended up meeting Benny Medina aka the "real-life Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," who told Smith about the show he was pitching to NBC. That's where Quincy Jones, who was producing the show with Medina, came in.
Medina invited Smith to Jones' house where there were "actors, artists, celebrities, and politicians." "It's like The Wiz without the costumes," explained Smith. But Jones was ready to get to business. He handed Smith a script and told him to memorize it in 10 minutes to audition in front of all the people at his house. Say what?
Smith asked for more time, but Jones wasn't having it. "Yeah, three weeks from now would be good, or you can take 10 minutes right now and you can change your life forever," he said. "I was like, 'Fuck it, then.'" Smith did the audition at the party and Jones got him to sign with NBC's head at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, on the spot.
"So the moral of the story is always say yes and I guess listen to your girlfriend," Smith said. Preach.