[Mourning Jams] Day 20: “A Nightmare On My Street”

October 2019 is a celebration of horror and musicThis October, Daily Grindhouse is celebrating the collision between music and horror with a series of posts under the banner of Rocktoberfest 2019. There will be daily features, recurring bits, and some special posts around the subject.

Mourning Jams is your daily kick off every morning with a different music video that has some horror elements to it. Crossing genres, decades, and more, it’s a good way to get in the spooky mood this Halloween month.

“A Nightmare On My Street” may be one of the best selling bootleg songs of all time. Released in 1988 by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith as a single from their second album, He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper, the song not only incorporates Charles Bernstein’s familiar and haunting theme from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but is literally about the Fresh Prince confronting Freddy Krueger after seeing an installment from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series. They modulate a voice to make it sound deeper, and it was even considered to be a part of the soundtrack for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (that honor went to The Fat Boys). But even with all of these direct and overt references and almost inclusion in the slasher series—the song was never sanctioned by New Line Cinema and no one involved with NOES ever gave it the green light.


Disclaimer in front of the video for "A Nightmare on My Street"


This led to a lawsuit, which led to a disclaimer being added on all future pressings of He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper, and also to the destruction of a music video that was shot for the single. Allegedly. In 2018, what began as a trickle of on-set photos led to a deluge of knock-off pop culture as the video was found and released on the internet. It was a bit up copy of a copy from a VHS source, but a little while later DJ Jazzy Jeff himself posted the video in much better quality (see below). The video was directed by Scott Kalvert, who also did the video for “Good Vibrations” for Marky Mark AND his Funky Bunch, as well as helmed the film THE BASKETBALL DIARIES.

It’s interesting to be reminded of the Will Smith of the late ’80s, one who was pretty goofy and kid-friendly, with sped up footage and cartoonish backgrounds in all of his videos (to be fair, parents just didn’t understand him). But when Gemini Man himself confronts “Fred,” the unintentional comedy is unleashed as a bootleg Freddy Krueger that looks like something out of a Universal Studios Halloween stage show complete with bleached flattop and odd leather jacket awkwardly struggles against his lanky, rapping opponent. It’s good stuff.

Tune in tomorrow and every morning in October for a new music video to help start the day on the frightening foot as Halloween swiftly approaches.

Rob Dean
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