During a revealing discussion on his new Wondery and Audible podcast Class of ’88, actor and rapper Will Smith shared a gripping anecdote from his early days in the music industry with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Smith recalled a particularly challenging episode during a trip to London in 1987 when Jeff had broken his leg in a car accident. This incident marked the beginning of a series of unexpected events that would eventually lead to a rather unorthodox solution.
Despite the pressure to produce a successful album quickly, the duo faced a major setback with Jeff’s leg injury. Recounting the ordeal, Smith detailed their attempt to remove the cast using an unconventional method involving the use of 24 butter knives from the hotel’s room service. Although their approach initially showed promise, it eventually backfired, leaving Jeff stuck with half a cast and limited options to seek medical assistance.
With the situation escalating, a friend of a friend, Jeremy “JL” Lam, intervened and swiftly resolved the predicament using a jagged edge from a beef stew can. This unexpected turn of events led to the successful removal of the cast, sparing Jeff from a return trip to the hospital. Smith reflected on the experience, acknowledging the urgency of their musical commitments and the importance of delivering their work promptly.
“It had to be great. If we messed it up, we’d probably never get a chance to make another one,” Smith said on the podcast. “It was a big question back then if rap could really make money for record companies.
Right before we left for London, Jeff broke his leg in a car accident. So when we finally arrived in our hotel, Jeff was in a full-length cast from his hip to his ankle,” Smith said, before Jeff interjected: “I probably should have gotten the cast off before we left to go make the album, but I didn’t so I was way past due of this cast coming off to the point that the filling inside the cast started to irritate my kneecap — which is the reason Will kinda came up with this brilliant idea of ‘I can get your cast off.'”
The podcast, which debuted recently, delves into Smith’s conversations with various influential figures from the late ’80s hip-hop scene, offering listeners an insider’s perspective on the era and the stories that shaped its music culture. Through candid and engaging discussions with industry peers such as Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Rakim, and Chuck D, Smith provides a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of the late ’80s hip-hop scene.
“I did think I could get it off,” Smith laughed. “My basic mindset is always ‘yes.’ I don’t see any value in saying ‘no.’ If somebody says, ‘Will, can you fly this space shuttle?’ Yes, of course. To me, that was a big part of my energy with us going out into the world and making music. It’s like, why can’t we do it as big as anybody’s ever done it? The answer is ‘yes.'”
Smith’s “plan” was to “saw off Jeff’s cast with knives from the hotel’s room service.”
“They bring up 24 butter knives and he proceeds to saw, and he kind of gets it to the point that the cast starts to split,” Jeff recalled, before Smith interjected: “So, I had been sawing the cast from the top, which, I guess, isn’t medically recommended, so the cast got stuck maybe halfway down Jeff’s leg.”