A Nightmare on My Street: New Line took Will Smith to court over Elm Street tribute

New Line Cinema took the Fresh Prince (a.k.a. Will Smith) to court over the video for his Elm Street-inspired “A Nightmare on My Street”

New Line Cinema teamed up with the rock band Dokken when they needed a song and music video to help promote their 1987 film A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, but when the time came to make another Elm Street sequel the following the year, they decided to switch musical genres and find a rapper they could work with on a song for the soundtrack of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. According to the recently published book Maverick Movies: New Line Cinema and the Transformation of American Film by Daniel Herbert (pick up a copy HERE), New Line wanted a rap song for Elm Street 4 because the company “understood that 40 percent of the Nightmare series audience was Black.” The rap song that ended up on the soundtrack was The Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready for Freddy?”, which also got a music video that featured Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger… but DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (a.k.a. Will Smith) also recorded their own Elm Street-inspired rap song that year, “A Nightmare on My Street,” and circumstances led to New Line taking the Fresh Prince to court over his “A Nightmare on My Street” video.

Herbert explains: In the summer of 1988, the rap group The Fat Boys released the album Coming Back Hard Again, which featured the song “Are You Ready for Freddy?” This track features the Freddy character talking and rapping along with the Fat Boys. The song was released in the wake of another song that invoked Freddy and NOES, “A Nightmare on My Street,” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, which appeared on the album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, released in March. Documents show that New Line negotiated with representatives for DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince to create a video based on NOES at the same time the company was working out a similar deal with the Fat Boys. Negotiations with the Fresh Prince broke down, however, just as He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper came out, which still included the NOES-themed song. Moreover, a music video for “A Nightmare on My Street” was produced that featured characters and settings that resembled the NOES films. New Line sued the music company responsible for the video, and a court upheld an injunction against it being aired. Instead, the video for the Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready for Freddy?” aired on MTV in fall 1988 and depicted the Freddy character terrorizing the Fat Boys.

A disclaimer sticker was added to the He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper album packaging to notify buyers that “A Nightmare on My Street” was not part of the The Dream Master soundtrack and not officially connected to the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and the music video directed by Scott Kalvert was allegedly destroyed… but at least one copy survived, because the video did make its way online thirty years later. You can watch it HERE.

What do you think of Will Smith getting in trouble for the “A Nightmare on My Street” video? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he’s a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/elm-street-will-smith/