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Will Smith Brings Freshness to Rap

November 22, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Will Smith is looking to lead a renaissance in rap music.

``Rap’s gone through a sort of dark ages,″ Will Smith says in the Nov. 28 Entertainment Weekly. ``I think with the loss of Biggie (Smalls) and Tupac (Shakur), the rap industry is ready for a change.″

The film and TV actor first known as clean-cut, two-time Grammy-winning rapper Fresh Prince did the rap theme song for his film ``Men in Black″ and is releasing his first album in four years, ``Big Willie Style.″ He says gangsta rap took hip-hop music down the wrong path.

``The essence of rap was always about partying and having fun,″ said the 29-year-old father of a 5-year-old boy. ``The best rapper was the one that could rock the crowd. How well you shot a gun wasn’t part of the criteria.″

Smith, who’s expecting another child with fiancee, actress Jada Pinkett, 26, also believes good rap doesn’t have to be vulgar.

``I want my son to have a rap record with no profanity,″ Smith said. ``Clean and fun.″

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