There’s peer pressure, then there’s … Gigi pressure.
Actor and rapper Will Smith credits the latter with his decision to keep his music free from incessant expletives.
Smith explained in his new memoir, “Will,” how his grandmother was instrumental in convincing him to tone down his lyrics and rhymes.
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It all started when his beloved Gigi discovered his first rap notebook when he was just 12 years old. His grandma combed through its pages, which were filled with “curse words” and “slangy vulgarities,” according to Insider.
His grandmother could have confronted him, ranted, raved, and tried to shout at him to change his ways, but instead she chose a very different route: she left a brief letter inside the notebook, encouraging the budding performer to use his talents to inspire those around him.
Smith took that message to heart.
“I decided that night that I wanted to use my words to empower others, to help rather than to hurt,” Smith writes in the memoir. “I never cursed again in my rhymes. And I got criticized and smashed for years for that choice. But there was no peer pressure that even came close to overriding Gigi pressure.”
This isn’t the first time Smith has shared the heartwarming story behind the lack of obscenity in his music. He also told TV host Graham Norton in 2015 about his notebook and shared the exact words his grandmother penned.
“I had all of my curse words, my four-letter words and everything in there,” he said. “And my grandmother found my rap book and she never said anything.”
Smith went on to share the words his Gigi wrote, though: “Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like this to express themselves. Please show the world that you’re as smart as we think you are. Love, Gigi.”
In the end, it was clearly a defining point for Smith that set his career on a very different course. It just goes to show you how simple words and deeds can change, transform, or redirect actions and even legacies.
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