When something so specific was made over 22 years ago, you don’t generally expect it to be in the headlines twice in as many months, but Will Smith’s theme song to NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air continues to be newsworthy, although the latest incident will be one that they would not want associated to the show that ran between 1990-96.
2 months after being processed through every language available on Google Translate to see how it would sound in English afterwards, the original lyrics to the rap have caused trouble for some people in America, following fears kickstarted by an optician’s receptionist, and leading to a police lockdown on all schools in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, over belief of a terrorist threat.
The incident occured in Ambridge (USA), where a 19-year-old student at Ambridge Area High School was believed to have made a threat to shoot people inside, though it soon emerged that it was just a misinterpretation of his self-made Fresh Prince ringtone.
An unnamed receptionist lodged the initial concerns, when she called 19-year-old Travis Clawson to confirm an impending appointment with his optician. Due to Clawson being in school, though, the call went to voicemail, which was the sound of him rapping to the theme song, and notably the line: “Shooting some b-ball outside of the school.”
These words, however, were mistaken by the receptionist as ‘shooting people outside of the school’, causing her to contact the local police, who ordered all schools in the county to enforce a 20 minute ‘lockdown’ as they searched for Clawson. Found in the guidance office of his own school, unassuming Clawson was arrested and questioned, until the teenager realised what the problem was and explained the misunderstanding. He was later released without charge, but advised to change his answerphone message to avoid further scares in the future.
Ambridge acting police chief James Mann defended his department’s actions, stating: “I believe everyone acted appropriately. Our first concern is the safety of kids.”
Travis Clawson’s father Wendell, however, had more pressing issues on the misunderstanding, noting: “An innocent young man was embarrassed. How is he supposed to go back to school and face his classmates?”
The incident, however, just seems to stem back to the lack of pop culture knowledge from the receptionist, so to clear things up for her and anyone else caught listening to a similar message in the future, the real Fresh Prince theme is video #1 below, not the College Humour ‘gangsta version’ parody at #2: