One song I always remember in particular this time of year is “A Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.
I had already been a fan of the pair from their 1987 debut album Rock the House, so when He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper was released in March of 1988 I added it to my collection right away. The album gained notoriety from the hit single “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, but the first track on that album was actually “A Nightmare on My Street”.
When I first heard the song, I thought it surely was to be included in an upcoming Freddy Krueger movie. It even sampled Charles Bernstein’s distinctively creepy musical theme from A Nightmare on Elm Street which already had three installments released in theaters by that time with a fourth on the way. Even though it seemed certain, I was wrong and it was not going to be used in a film. (The studio instead opted to commission “Are You Ready for Freddy?” from The Fat Boys.) That didn’t stop DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince from still including the song on their new album.
Despite “A Nightmare on My Street” not being in the film, the song’s official release as a single coincided closely with the August opening of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master in theaters. Producers at New Line Cinema were not pleased and took legal action. They eventually settled out of court. A music video allegedly shot for the single was buried, and a disclaimer sticker was added to later pressings indicating that the record and the single were not officially affiliated with the “Nightmare” property. Specifically, the sticker read “A Nightmare on My Street is not part of the soundtrack… and is not authorized, licensed, or affiliated with the Nightmare on Elm Street films.”
For over 30 years due to the legal settlement, the music video for “A Nightmare on My Street” did not see the light of day. For three decades, the video was assumed lost. But in 2018, the lost video resurfaced and can now be enjoyed. Without further ado, you can now watch the video for “A Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince right here…
The “Fred” character in the video doesn’t look like the movie character much other than the knife-fingered-glove, but he does invade dreams and the voice is fairly similar. The song still no doubt capitalized on the popularity of the Freddy Krueger films as well as the previous success of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and climbed the U.S. pop charts eventually peaking at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both hits helped the album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper achieve triple-platinum certification (selling over 3 million copies).
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince were known for their lighthearted, inoffensive, and humorous songs and this one definitely fit the bill. It also features the Fresh Prince’s distinctive story-telling flow. Here are the lyrics to “A Nightmare on My Street”:
Now I have a story that I'd like to tell
About this guy you all know him, he had me scared as hell!
He comes to me at night after I crawl into bed
He's burnt up like a weenie and his name is Fred!
He wears the same hat and sweater every single day
And even if it's hot, outside he wears it anyway!
He's gone when I'm awake but he shows up when I'm asleep
I can't believe that there's a nightmare - on my street!
It was a Saturday evening if I remember it right
And we had just gotten back off tour last night
So the gang and I thought that it would be groovy
If we summoned up the posse and done rushed the movies
I got Angie, Jeff got Tina
Ready Rock got some girl I'd never seen in my life
That was all right because the lady was chill
Then we dipped to the theater set to ill
We saw Elm Street and man it was def
And everything seemed all right when we left
But when I got home and laid down to sleep
That began the nightmare, but on my street!
It was burnin' in my room like an oven
My bed soaked with sweat, and man, I was buggin'
I checked the clock and it stopped at 12:30
It had melted it was so darn hot, and I was thirsty
I went downstairs to grab some juice or a coke
Flipped the TV off, and then I almost choked
When I heard this awful voice comin from behind
It said, "You cut off 'Heavy Metal' and now you must die!"
Man, I ain't even wait to see who it was
Broke outside my drawers and screamed, "So long, cuz!"
Got halfway up the block I calmed down and stopped screamin'
Then thought, "Oh, I get it, I must be dreamin"
I strolled back home with a grin on my grill
I figured since this is a dream I might as well get ill
I walked in the house, the Big Bad Fresh Prince
But Freddy killed all that noise real quick
He grabbed me by my neck and said, "Here's what we'll do.
We gotta lotta work here, me and you.
The souls of your friends you and I will claim.
You've got the body, and I've got the brain."
I said, "Yo Fred, I think you've got me all wrong.
I ain't partners with NOBODY with nails that long!
Look, I'll be honest man, this team won't work.
The girls won't be on you, Fred your face is all burnt!"
I patted him on the shoulder said, "Thanks for stopping by."
Then I opened up the door and said, "Take care guy!"
He got mad, drew back his arm, and slashed my shirt
I laughed at first, then thought, "Hold up, that hurt!"
It wasn't a dream, man, this guy was for real
I said, "Freddy, uh, pal, there's been an awful mistake here."
No further words and then I darted upstairs
Crashed through my door then jumped on my bed
Pulled the covers up over my head
And said, "Oh please do somethin with Fred!"
He jumped on my bed, went through the covers with his claws
Tried to get me, but my alarm went off
And then silence! It was a whole new day
I thought, "Huh, I wasn't scared of him anyway."
Until I noticed those rips in my sheets
And that was proof that there had been a nightmare, on my street!
The song ends with a phone call between Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff which is interrupted after Jeff falls asleep by Freddy Krueger and ends with Freddy exclaiming, “I’m your D.J. now, Princey!”
As most certainly are aware, the Fresh Prince is better known today by his real name, Will Smith. This song was out two years before he would become known as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and about seven years before he became the box office superstar with blockbusters like Bad Boys, Independence Day and Men in Black. But it is good to remember that it all started as a rap group in the late-80s. “A Nightmare on My Street” is not necessarily one of my anytime favorites, but it is a fun song to include on any Halloween playlist. Hope you enjoy the video and add it to yours.