4 and a half stars out of 5
After enduring a temporary sales slump, DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince roared back with Homebase. They scored a huge pop and R&B hit with "Summertime," using Kool & The Gang's "Summer Madness" single for the music base while Will Smith rapped about romantic hopes and community barbeques. He landed another Top 20 single with "Ring My Bell," this time reworking Anita Ward's oldie while offering his own double-entendre take.
Undoubtedly helped by the success of his television show, this album returned the duo to platinum status, even as Smith showed once more (protests to the contrary notwithstanding) that he was an accomplished pop rapper.
-- Ron Wynn
Homebase DJ Jazzy Jeff/The Fresh Prince
Since the rapsome duet's last LP was released in 1989, The Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith) has become an American TV star in "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" (briefly glimpsed on BBC2), in which our hero plays a streetwise home boy whose enforced sojourn with affluent relatives in Beverly Hills elicits corny but cute culture clash chuckles. In terms of style, content and delivery HOMEBASE picks up neatly where its predecessor left off—I'M ALL THAT indulges in the obligatory round of bragging, whilst This Boy Is Smooth and A Dog Is A Dog catalogue the Prince's amorous adventures, snappy rhymes fired off with the tongue firmly implanted in cheek and Summertime lifts Kool And The Gang's Summer Madness to concoct a mellifluous, sun-baked groove. Sampling everyone from James Brown to Bugs Bunny, HOMEBASE steers clear of misogyny, violence and garden furniture, and in the process hits the button almost every time.
- Paul Davies
Before Hammer was making Coke commercials, the biggest crossover rap group was the Philly duo of DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince with "Parents Just Don't Understand" that was . fine-tuned with a mass-appealing, pop-oriented sound. Now after a couple years away from the studio (recording, that is), the duo returns with a surprisingly exceptional album, Homebase. Growing a few years older and sidestepping an overly predictable campaign, Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Of Bel Air) come off with plenty of commercial appeal, but without meandering in adolescent fantasy. Prince's delivery is slow and cool-a deeper tone rocks his rhymes (most evident on the Kool & The Gang-influenced, jeep-blaster "Summertime"). Thankfully, there's not much here to remind you of his whiny old style of rapping (The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air theme is horrible), instead there's just typical rhyming fun with all the makings of another crossover hit. Touch these bases: "I'm All That," the revamped, 1979 Anita Ward disco hit "Ring My Bell" and "A Dog Is A Dog."