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5 Myths About 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Debunked By DJ Jazzy Jeff

04/04/2015 10:20 am ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015
NBC via Getty Images

Prepare to have your world flipped, turned upside down.

"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" came into our lives in 1990, and 25 years later, we're still obsessed. It was the '90s show you had to watch. Even today, its theme song sparks instant sing-a-longs all over the world, and the show just seems to get more and more popular.

But despite what Smith's character might say in the show, popularity can have its downsides. Over the years, some stories about the show have been passed along as fact even though they're missing important details or are completely made up. While talking with HuffPost Entertainment about the Red Bull Thre3style DJ competition, "Fresh Prince" cast member DJ Jazzy Jeff, aka Jeffrey Townes, also helped clear up fact from fiction.

If you'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, here are 5 huge myths about "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air":

Myth 1. Producer Quincy Jones is the cab driver.
tv show gifs
Image: YouTube

The Real Story:
There's a popular rumor online that the cabbie who picks up Will Smith in the opening credits was producer Quincy Jones. This rumor is so widely reported as fact that there's even "visual evidence" (as seen in the image):


Image: Imgur

Townes gives the "fact" a definitive "no," saying, "No way, shape or form. Another urban legend."

According to Townes, there's also another casting rumor to clear up. Apparently, the mom in the "Parents Just Don't Understand" video and the "Fresh Prince" intro are not the same person, despite claims.

Myth 2. The scene where Jazz gets kicked out of the house was shot only once to save money.
tv show gifs
Image: YouTube

The Real Story:
Jazz's famous scene was actually shot multiple times, but Townes said after a while, he couldn't take the bruises. The actor explains, "When I did it maybe the third or fourth time, because every time you shoot it to get a take you probably have to do it about 40 times. Literally, black and blue by the time they say, 'We got it.' And it got so bad the last time, and I was like, 'I can't do this. I'm not a stuntman. I can't do it.'"

Townes says that's the real reason the show started using the same clip over and over, and it seemed to work out. "Like, it became a joke," he said.

Myth 3. The show is just a metaphor for Heaven, and Will is actually dead.
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Image: Getty

The Real Story:
A widely accepted theory about the "Fresh Prince" is that the show was just a metaphor for what Heaven is like, and Will actually died in the playground fight he mentions in the theme song.

Townes shot the theory down, but said he appreciated the fans who came up with it. "It’s just, that’s so far-fetched you just laugh," he said. The actor later added, "To see someone take all of that stuff and almost create a whole world around it, you’re kind of like, 'Wow, it wasn’t that deep, but that’s amazing that their brain took it there.'"

Townes also said, despite the fact that the theme song seems semi-autobiographical, the fight Smith mentions in it never actually happened. "Will Smith is just a great storyteller," said Townes.

Myth 4. The show was only created because of Will Smith's financial trouble.

The Real Story:
It's widely known that Smith was in debt at the time NBC offered him a sitcom. Smith even explained the story to James Lipton on "Inside the Actors Studio":

I kinda spun out for a little bit, and, um, I got a call from the IRS. And I wasn't -- they said I was evading my taxes. I wasn't evading 'um. I just wasn't paying 'um.

Though Smith's financial situation was incentive for doing a show, a huge reason "Fresh Prince" got made was the "Parents Just Don't Understand" video. Townes explained that after seeing the video, the eventual producers thought "[Smith] might be able to pull this TV show off."

Townes says everything happened very quickly: "People loved it. They said, 'Hey let’s do the TV show.' They shot the TV show. Then it became a humongous success. But, kind of like back then sometimes rap videos were your audition reel. You know? And you didn’t even know it."

Myth 5. Will and Jazz came up with that famous handshake.

Image: Tumblr

The Real Story:
Townes gives all the credit for the show's famous handshake to a backup dancer on the DJ Jazzy Jeff and "Fresh Prince" tour: "His name is Mike Barr. [He] started doing the handshake, and that became our tour handshake. And what happened was it was a thing that I greeted Will [with] on the show. We just did the handshake that we would do on tour ... and it actually became a cultural phenomenon."

Though there are the rare instances you might see Smith do the handshake with others, Townes says for the most part, they won't do it with people who weren't on the tour. "I can’t, like, if you’re not Will," he said. Townes compared it to secret handshakes in sororities and fraternities, saying, "You can't do that unless you’ve gone through the initiation."

And that's really how he became the prince of a town called Bel-Air.


Image: Giphy

Red Bull's Thre3style 2015 USA Championships run from April 2 to April 4, with the winner competing in the World Finals in September.

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