Could you imagine a world where “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” was played by someone else? Perhaps if instead of the rapper/actor that’s from “West Philadelphia, born and raised”, it ended up being “Queens, New York, born and raised”? According to 80s rapper MC Shan that was almost the case, had he not allegedly blocked it.
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was one of the most popular shows of the 90s, running on NBC from 1990-1996. The show touched on many themes from family issues to community relations, while always incorporating a fresh dose of comedy to follow along with the lesson. Although the show has been off-air for 24 years, it has stood the test of time living in the memory banks of those who were around to watch the show in real-time, while gaining new fans via syndication on various networks.
Fans rejoiced lately when HBO Max officially announced that they would be airing an unscripted reunion special featuring the cast of the show. The Thanksgiving special will feature the show’s original cast, minus James Avery who played the role of “Uncle Phil” due to him sadly passing away in 2013. Also excluded from the original cast is Janet Hubert, the first “Aunt Viv” who was fired from the show and replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid, who is confirmed to also appear at the reunion.
With all the excitement surrounding the upcoming HBO Max reunion special, as well as a planned reboot of the show, Bel-Air, which is still in the early stages of development, a few news stories pertaining to the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” are resurfacing. One such story involves MC Shan, best known for the Marley Marl produced hit song “The Bridge” and his feature on Canadian rapper Snow’s international number one hit single “Informer”.
The rapper made claims in a past interview that he was originally considered for the lead role of the show made famous by Will Smith, but did not land the role after calling manager, producer, and record executive Benny Medina a derogatory slur. This action would not only cause him to miss out on the role but would cause his overall career to suffer.
“I was up for that Fresh Prince role and Benny Medina was my record company head, and I was up for that Fresh Prince role but how I f*****d that up was I told Benny Medina you are a f****n’ f—got,” he exclaimed in the interview. “I told Benny Medina to his face ‘You are a f–got!’ Then look what happens with Fresh Prince he is in there doing Six Degrees of Separation. Will is my man, but I could never see myself doing that. Yeah, you are the 20 million dollar man but what part of your soul did you sell? What piece of your a** did you give up?”
He added, “I don’t know I’m just allegedly alleging! It didn’t get to the negotiating stage and the money wasn’t worth it for me. I wasn’t for Warner Bros anyway. I didn’t fit their mold!”
The Queens native doubled down on his claims in another interview and further explained why he wasn’t cast for the role. The rapper also admits this is allegedly the reason he was dropped from his major-label deal. “You gotta do this to get a deal… that has always been the thing. That has always been it,” he said. “How these [MF’s] is doing now, you gotta do, n***a.”
Shan continued, “The reason I got [messed] up is because I called Benny Medina a f****t to his face. He was trying all that smooth [stuff]. I was up for the ‘Fresh Prince’ role… but once, because look… if you look at my first album, Benny Medina was my executive producer. Like who is this guy? He tried to take me under his wing. I wasn’t having that. So this is how it’s been all the time. But it was basically under the table. So now here I am looking at Benny Medina, ‘oh you want me to be fresh prince, what the f— I gotta do for it? […] No,’ he exclaimed. “I ain’t wit it. Next thing you know they got [Fresh Prince].”
The rapper goes on to label rapper Will Smith “his man” and admits that his first show was with Smith. However, he says he has a simple question for Will. “Your first movie after you did that was ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ These [people] induct your a** in this club…. you know what I’m saying? You don’t get that money unless you’re playing the game. Period.”
He then admits this is what he believes caused him to lose his deal. “And so I’ve talked my way out of playing their game a long time ago when I told Benny Medina ‘you f—got, f—you. That’s when I got dropped from Warner,” he stated. “My whole s**t went a whole total left and I ain’t care. I’d rather be this way and living how I am now than to look myself in the mirror saying I kissed Benny Medina’s b*lls.”