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Red Alert

Things were testy between the new album Code Red, their seventh long player, and the previous one, Homebase. Will Smith, the Fresh Prince half of Jazzy Jeff and the fresh Prince, says there were obvious negative elements that tried to split the crew.

This wouldn't worry the bulk of their fans, most of whom joined the party with the hit single Boom Shake the Room, or 18 months ago with Summertime. The fact is, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince have been around a lot longer, impacting on the hip-hop scene at the same time as debut releases from Public Enemy and LL Cool J.

"There was never a formal conversation about splitting up, but we did feel a distance between us," Smith explains. "There were some negative people that got in between us, so we were a little worried, a little concerned." It is common knowledge that Smith, star of the US sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and movie Made in America is the higher profile member of the rap crew. Jazzy Jeff has a co-star role in The fresh Prince of Bel Air but it is understood movie makers were trying to woo Smith away from his rap career to concentrate on acting.

Smith says he wants to pursue acting, but not at the expense of music, or his friendships. "We dug deep within ourselves for the new album." (Jazzy) Jeff Townes says. "We wanted to make an album that offers emotions instead of what the new trends are. We went back to basics on this one.

"I'm not going to say we strayed but, because of the TV show and Will doing his movie, and me doing production for other people we didn't really put time in place for our own things. We weren't focussing on our own project." The novelty of past recordings is missing on Code Red. Have you become more serious? "We cant write about parents in that way anymore," Townes laughs. "Because we are parents now." Smith: "I've learned a lot, and I think I've got a lot better, lyrically. I think a track like Boom has the same appeal as parents.but on a different level.

"We realised very early that what we do is special," Smith continues. "People always talk about us and put us down, but we are still here, seven years later, five albums later, still going strong. We want to cater more to the fans, and less to other rappers."

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