Parents Just Don't Understand

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"Parents Just Don't Understand"
Single by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
from the album He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
ReleasedFebruary 17, 1988
StudioBattery Studios (London)
GenreGolden age hip hop
  • 4:13 (Radio edit)
  • 5:35 (Album version)
Songwriter(s)Pete Harris, Will Smith, Jeffrey Townes
Producer(s)Harris, Smith, Townes, Bryan "Chuck" New
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince singles chronology
"Brand New Funk"
"Parents Just Don't Understand"
"A Nightmare on My Street"
Audio sample
Music video
"Parents Just Don't Understand" on YouTube

"Parents Just Don't Understand" is the second single from American duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's second studio album, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper (1988). In the song, the Fresh Prince details his problems with his parents, whom he feels do not understand the challenges of being a teenager.

The song was released as a single in spring 1988 by Jive and peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[1] It won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards, one of the two songs to do so before the award was discontinued in 1991. The song was referenced several times in the television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and was ranked number 96 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop". It was also featured in the movies The Parent Trap, Malibu's Most Wanted and Jersey Girl.


In the first verse, the Fresh Prince goes to the Gallery Mall with his family to purchase school clothes. His mother buys him clothes that do not align with his personal tastes, including bell-bottoms and a plaid shirt with a butterfly collar. On the first day of school, the Prince pretends to be sick, with no success. Forced to wear the clothes that his mother chose for him, the Prince is met with ridicule from his schoolmates.

In the second verse, the Prince takes the family Porsche out for a drive while his parents are on vacation, despite not yet having a driver's license. He picks up an attractive young girl and takes her to McDonald's. When the Prince shows off the car's speed, he is pulled over by the police, and finds out that the girl he picked up was a tween runaway. The Prince is arrested and his parents have to cut their vacation short to bail him out; they angrily assault him on the way home.

Critical reception[edit]

Jack Barron from NME wrote, "Over a hip-bone-quaking bass and horns that blow harder than a hurricane The Fresh Prince tells a domestic tale that halfway through turns into a nightmare when his mom buys him zits for his birthday and dresses him in flares. Mind you he's his own worst enemy, making typical mistakes like stealing his parents' car to impress his girlfriend and striking out until he gets arrested by the police for not having a licence. [...] Wack it up the next time you have an argument with your ma and pa."[2]

Notable cover versions[edit]

Lil' Romeo, 3LW, and Nick Cannon recorded a cover for the Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius soundtrack. T-Squad covered the song on their only album T-Squad.[3]

Part of the song was sung by Leslie Knope in the cold open of season 2 episode 1 of Parks and Recreation, Pawnee Zoo.

Track listing[edit]

  • 7" vinyl
  1. "Parents Just Don't Understand" – 4:13
  2. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Instrumental) – 4:06
  • 12" vinyl
  1. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Danny D Mix) – 6:20
  2. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Original 7" Version) – 5:13
  3. "Live At Union Square, November 1986" – 4:03
  • American 12" vinyl
  1. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Extended Mix) – 5:27
  2. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Single Edit) – 4:13
  3. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Instrumental) – 4:06
  4. "Live At Union Square, November 1986" – 4:03


Chart (1988) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[4] 49
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 28
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[5] 13
UK Singles (OCC)[6] 87
US Billboard Hot 100 12
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[7] 10


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[8] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  2. ^ Barron, Jack (14 May 1988). "Singles". NME. p. 24. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  3. ^ T-Squad - Parents Just Don't Understand
  4. ^ "DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don't Understand". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  5. ^ "DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don't Understand". Top 40 Singles.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 161.
  8. ^ "American single certifications – DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don't Understand". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]