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
Released February 17, 1988
Format 12" Vinyl
Recorded November 1987-January 1988
Genre Pop rap, comedy hip hop
  • 4:13 (radio edit)
  • 5:35 (album version)
Label Jive
Writer(s) Harris, Smith, Townes
Producer(s) Harris, Smith, Townes, New
Certification Gold (RIAA)
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince singles chronology
"Brand New Funk"
"Parents Just Don't Understand"
"Nightmare on My Street"
Audio sample
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"Parents Just Don't Understand" is the second single from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's second studio album, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper. The song 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. It peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was released as a single in spring 1988. The single was only released on Vinyl. The song was referenced several times in the television show The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. The song was ranked #96 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop, and the music video was featured in the 2003 film Malibu's Most Wanted.

Lyrical content[edit]

The song is told from the first-person perspective of a 16-year-old boy , who is desperately wanting to be seen as cool and popular with his friends but lamenting that his parents are out-of-touch, overbearing shrews and actively working against said stated goals. Two such examples are given:

  • Verse 1: The boy and his mother go shopping for clothing for the upcoming school year. Instead of the mother giving in to demands that he be allowed to wear hip-hop and grunge style clothing, he instead is made to try on (and ultimately accept) more conservative styles, to which the boy complains are more appropriate for 1963 and The Brady Bunch and would hurt his reputation for being cool. The mother counters that "You're only sixteen, you don't have a rep yet" and (as he begs her to reconsider her purchases) "No, you go to school to learn, not for a fashion show." As feared, on the first day of school, the boy is laughed at and scorned, while he worries that he will need to go through the same process for the rest of the school year, while complaining that his parents don't understand what it takes to be popular.
  • Verse 2: The protagonist is left home alone while his parents go on an out-of-the-country vacation. Despite being told that the cars are off-limits, the boy decides that his father "wouldn't mind" if he took his Porsche out for a drive. While driving along a city street, the boy sees an attractive girl and picks her up to go for a drive. At one point, the girl unbuttons several buttons from her blouse, begins acting suggestive toward him and encourages him to drive faster ... to which he agrees. However, a police officer patrolling the area spots the car being driven 90 mph and pulls the young driver over ... to which he is forced to admit he does not have a driver's license. He then learns that his female passenger is not a teenager but 12 years old and a runaway. The boy is taken into custody and the car impounded, forcing him to call his parents and explain. The parents are outraged and make sure he understands that what he is chalking up as a mistake were serious crimes.


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) – 4:13
  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

Official versions[edit]

  • Original 7" Version – 4:13 (Found On The 12" Vinyl) sasha
  • Instrumental – 4:06 (Found On The 7" Vinyl)
  • Danny D Mix – 6:20 (Found On The 12" Vinyl)
  • Extended Mix – 5:27 (Found On The 12" American Vinyl)
  • Single Edit – 4:13 (Found On The 12" American Vinyl)

Cover versions[edit]

A cover of the song was sung by Lil' Romeo, 3LW, and Nick Cannon, which appears on the Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius soundtrack. A video was made with cameo appearances from Vanessa L. Williams & Whoopi Goldberg.

The song was used by a young Tupac Shakur in a music video he made with Smith's future wife Jada Pinkett. Shakur and Pinkett had been attending the Baltimore School of Performing Arts. The song was covered by Amy Poehler in the second season premiere of Parks and Recreation.


Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 1