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Class of '88 with Will Smith

Audible | Wondery

In the US, hip hop reigns as the genre that influences every aspect of our culture. From fashion to film, the dominance of this prolific sound can be traced back to one year - 1988. From Public Enemy to The Fresh Prince, these twelve months gave rise to the superstars and styles that still resonate in songs released today. Through the unique perspective and personal experiences of Will Smith, Class of ’88 reveals the milestone moments, albums and artists that inspired a sonic evolution and secured 1988 as hip hop’s most important year. Rich with archival material, new interviews with hip hop’s biggest stars, and personal recollections from Will himself, Class of ’88 delivers fresh untold stories from the year that hip hop overcame the forces that were hell bent on blocking its rise.

This series features interviews and stories from the revolutionary Artists that impacted that year and many more afterwards, including: Queen Latifah, Jazzy Jeff, DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Chuck D, Fab Five Freddy, Rakim, Slick Rick, DJ Red Alert, and Rick Rubin.

Listen to Class of '88 wherever you get your podcasts. You can binge the entire series, right now, on the Amazon Music App or Audible.

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Our Editor's Take

The Class of '88 with Will Smith podcast celebrates 1988. That year, hip-hop and rap music broke free from cultural and industry barriers. Host Will Smith explores the year's most important events, artists, and albums. Fans can join Smith in remembering hip-hop's most incredible days.

Hollywood superstar and rapper Smith has won many awards. These include four Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award, and more. While he's appeared in many high-profile films, he's beloved for his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The sitcom aired from 1990 to 1996. It tells the story of a Philadelphia teen who goes to live with wealthy relatives in Los Angeles, California. Smith also performed as part of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Their single, "Parents Just Don't Understand," won them the first-ever Grammy Award for a rap song. The Class of '88 podcast is a passion project dedicated to this legendary time in hip-hop history.

The eight-part series discusses artists including Run-DMC, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, and Slick Rick. The latter came on the scene at a pivotal moment. Towards the end of 1988, a tragic event at a concert convinced the public that rap music was a danger to the people. Did Slick Rick manage to change this damaging narrative? As Smith unveils this history, podcast listeners will find out.

The first episode brings listeners back to 1986, with the Battle for World Supremacy. It was the biggest DJing competition in the world at the time. Jazzy Jeff joins Smith to discuss competing in New York's Times Square. What did it mean for Jazzy Jeff to become the champion? What does Smith remember about watching Jazzy Jeff perform that day? The two discuss how that day heralded hip-hop and rap progress two years later.

In an engaging documentary style, the podcast demonstrates why 1988 was a revolutionary year for hip-hop. It also shows how the genre affects all areas of culture today. Listeners can hear the entire series of Class of '88 with Will Smith now.

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