Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Fresh Prince Meets Pop Rock

Remember in a recent post when I said The Fresh Prince only did one guest spot in his entire career? Well, apparently I lied. There were two... but can you blame me for neglecting an obscure Billy Ocean record?

Well, I can't forgive myself! In the name of completism, it must be blogged about!

Besides being doomed not to be a hit single by its title alone, "I Sleep Much Better (In Someone Else's Bed)" is a bit of a throw away tune recorded as the new song for Billy Ocean's 1989 Greatest Hits album to compel die-hard Ocean fans to buy a collection of songs they already owned. But fortunately for us, they did press it up as a single in the hopes that a few DJ's might promote it (when a pop star like Billy Ocean can't even be bothered to make it a picture cover, you know that's all it's for), so there's no need to buy the whole album for the one Fresh Prince appearance.

The first thing you'll notice is that it's a pretty simple, repetitive song (Protip: skip the seven minute Extended Version). The production (by Ocean regular Robert John Lange) is professional... certainly nothing as catchy as "Get Into My Car," but some passable pop studio loops. And the chorus is passable; but there's not much more to this ode to sleeping around than a few lines and the repeated chorus for the first three and a half minutes. Honestly, it feels unfinished - which might literally be the case. This could easily be a work-in-progress that Jive stumbled upon in one of their closets and threw onto the album.

Things pick up, though, when the rappers finally get involved at the end. That's right, despite The Fresh Prince being the only artist credited on the sticker cover, there's actually two MCs on this song, Smith and Mimi. They do a back and forth, line for line exchange, a la Positive K & MC Lyte (this came the year after "I Ain't Havin' It" so there's no doubt who inspired who): "FP: Come on, baby, these are girls I used to play with; but you're the lady I want to stay with. ... Mimi: Don't you understand it's hard to deal with this? You play me part time: hello then goodbye, while you run around town like some playboy - some fly guy?" It's kinda fun, certainly not great, but at least the rhymes are written by the Fresh Prince himself (Smith, but not this Mimi character, gets a writing credit).

The b-side also has a Version Without Rap for all those pop fans who screamed "oh my god, what are rappers doing on my nice Billy Ocean record!?" and an instrumental. Though it's not bad, if you're not a collector of all things Fresh Prince you can easily live without this. If you do want it, though; the good thing is it's available in dollar bins the world over. Snag it cheap and complete your collection; but you probably won't take it out again once you've filed it away.

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