As the nation continues discussions about police brutality and how it pertains to racism, acting veteran Will Smith is also addressing the way America’s overall obsession with gun culture is leading to many early deaths in the Black community.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air has also sparked rumors that he may be making a return to the music business with the help of one of hip-hop’s biggest stars, Kanye West.
Smith has spent more than 25 years in the acting business, something that often leaves big stars disconnected from the issues impacting people who don’t benefit from fame and fortune. Smith, on the other hand, has remained relatively grounded throughout his experience in Hollywood.
In a recent interview, Smith addressed gun culture and racism in America and explained that one of the biggest pains he has is not knowing what he can do to solve these problems and ultimately help save young Black lives.
“It’s been rough for me trying to find my position in the struggle and where my voice is needed and helpful,” he told Esquire. “You know, I grew up in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia has a really rough police-brutality history. I grew up in a neighborhood where it was very clear that the police were ‘them’ and we were ‘us.’ ”
Smith revealed that the car he had when he was 17 often got him into a lot of trouble with police.
“I had the full stereo system and the rims and the paint job,” he explained. “I had all of that foolishness that made me get pulled over extra, and I had an attitude the second they pulled me over.”
Smith suggested that while police brutality is an extremely important issue that needs to remain in the spotlight, America’s obsession with gun culture also has to be addressed.
“What we’re really talking about in this issue is people walking around the street with guns that can make a decision whether or not they’re going to kill someone, right,” he continued. “And that’s even more difficult, because there’s really no way back from that. This is a gun culture. And it’s painful for me because I cannot figure out how to be helpful.”
Many famous Black fathers have been opening up about the talks they have to have with their sons in hopes that it will keep them safe when they encounter police officers.
Smith has a different sort of talk with his sons.
“I’ve always been telling my sons, ‘We have to separate fault from responsibility,’” he said. “Whose fault it is that Black men are in this situation, whose fault it is doesn’t matter. It’s our responsibility to make it go right. It’s our responsibility. It’s a lot of people’s fault, systemic racism, and it’s a lot of people’s fault that the Black community is in the situation that we’re in, but it’s our responsibility to clean up the mess.”
Smith may be struggling to find his voice in the movement now, but it’s quite possible that his potential hip-hop return could provide him with the perfect stage to start finding out exactly where his voice is needed.
While all people tend to be impacted by music in some way, none seem to be more engulfed into the current musical culture than millennials — a group that many would argue has an incredible amount of power to change American’s future but is lacking the necessary guidance and leadership.
It’s possible that Smith could become an influential voice for today’s youth, and he’s already started partnering up with an incredibly influential hip-hop great.
It’s been roughly 10 years since Smith released his last solo rap album Lost and Found in 2005, but new reports are suggesting that he could be gearing up for a comeback.
During a screening for his new film Focus, Smith told reporters that he is contemplating getting back into the music business.
“I went into the studio with Kanye [West],” Smith said, according to The Guardian. “I’m thinking about it. I’m exploring.”
West has been consistently recognized as a brilliant creative force—albeit controversial—so his assistance could certainly be a big help to Smith.
Meanwhile, he is also picking up some writing tips from his son Jaden, who is also a rapper.
“My son tells me I have to write out the things I don’t like,” Smith added. “I can’t write and stop. I have to keep going and going and write them out. I’ve never worked like that before, but I think I might give that a shot.”
Perhaps West, the reigning king of samples in hip-hop, could find a great way to integrate the song Smith is best known for into his new music.
“Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down….”