Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Rakim Didn't Ghostwrite Will Smith's Classic "Summertime," But He Did Turn It Down

Contrary to rumors, Rakim's pen didn't touch Will Smith's "Summertime," but it was his song first.
DJBooth_logo2x

For years, people have suspected that Rakim secretly ghostwrote the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s timeless anthem “Summertime.” In a recent interview, though, Rakim revealed that while he didn’t write the song, it could have been his.

In a conversation with HipHopDX, Rakim confirmed Eric B’s comments in another interview, confirming that the beat for “Summertime” was originally made for The God MC, not for Will Smith. Eric B also told Combat Jack that he had Rakim record over the production, but people were in his ear telling him the song was too soft. He passed on it, and Philly’s son made a hip-hop classic out of it.

Rakim confirms that he had the beat “on the backburner,” but that it didn’t fit the presentation he wanted to make for his first album:

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

BOTW-16x9--3-

DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace & Joony: Best of the Week

DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace, and Joony, among others, have the best new songs on Audiomack this week.

am-world-top10-nov-16x9--1-

10 Rappers You Should Know Right Now

Luh Soldier, Snowsa, SGaWD, and K.Charles are four of the 10 new rappers you need to know right now on Audiomack.

BOTW-16x9--2-

Freddie Gibbs, Saweetie & Earl Sweatshirt: Best of the Week

Freddie Gibbs, Saweetie, and Earl Sweatshirt, among others, had the best new songs on Audiomack this week.

“It was something that we wanted to use, but we felt that the time wasn’t right because of the choice of all the records that we had on the first album. But that’s a joint that you can’t deny. You know, maybe it could’ve been hooked up a little more street-ready, and it was something that we thought was a hit record. But we didn’t want to come out and grasp on that first album. We was trying to ease back on that.” - HipHopDX Interview

It’s easy to see this as Rakim having missed out on one of the greatest songs in rap history, but all things considered, it’s tough to fault his choice. As the story so eloquently states, there are two periods of rap: pre-Rakim and post-Rakim. The Long Island, New York native has one of the most bulletproof discographies in rap, and he’s one of the few artists who can confidently say the game would be completely different without him.

Artists turn down beats that end up as hits or album gems for other artists all the time. The stories are endless: Lupe Fiasco turned down the song that became B.o.B’s breakout hit, “Nothin’ On You.” 50 Cent reportedly passed on “See You Again,” which Wiz Khalifa drove to a billion YouTube views, three GRAMMY nominations, and the top of Billboard charts around the world. There’s also a scene in the Jay Z documentary Fade To Black where Hov looks perplexed while Timbaland plays him the rumbling zoo animal sounds that Ludacris would employ later with “The Potion.” And just this year, ScHoolboy Q used a Metro Boomin beat to make "Dope" that his TDE cohort Kendrick Lamar passed on.

Would some of these songs still have been hits for the artists they were originally crafted for? Possibly, but there’s no guarantee. If you’re going to pick beats based on the idea of what other artists may do with them, you're hustling backward. All you can do is stay focused on your artistic vision and hope for the best, and legends like Rakim know that all too well.

Related

Rakim

Confirmed: Rakim Doesn’t Do Twitter Rants

The (manager for the) God MC has spoken.

DJBooth_logo2x

Steve Stoute Confirms Nas Wrote on Will Smith's "Gettin Jiggy," Nas Disagrees

The veteran music exec says Nas' pen did indeed help Will Smith get jiggy, but that doesn't line up with Nas' own account.

DJBooth_logo2x

Gucci Mane's "Everybody Looking" Has Strong First Week, He's Officially Back

Atlantic Records is popping bottles thanks to a strong first week from their fresh out the pen rap star.

DJBooth_logo2x

Travis Scott Confirms Kid Cudi Will Be on 'Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight' Album

Many thought Travis and Cudi had beef, but the duo has a song together on Scott's upcoming album.

DJBooth_logo2x

Why Erykah Badu Didn't Want to Hear OutKast's "Ms. Jackson"

Millions of people know every word of André 3000's break-up song—now imagine being the person that song was written about.