Precious Metal: While Jada Pinkett Smith Remains Big Will’s Hollywood Wife She Refuses To Play Second Fiddle To Anyone
When Smith approached Honore four years ago to start up a band, he was a frustrated LA. session guitarist for folks like Erykah Badu. He was feeling pigeonholed as a hip hop and R&B man. This, from a guy who caught the music bug when he saw Roy Clark picking the banjo on Hee-Haw, which, Honore concedes, is unusual for a kid growing up on the black side of segregated Baton Rouge, La. Like Smith, he never bought into the idea that his skin color meant he had to stick to one kind of music.
Smith joins her guitarists in the makeshift studio on wheels. She sometimes rolls separately from the band, and the mood changes a bit when “boss lady” hangs here. “We play the dozens all the time,” Honore says.
“But we don’t mess with her because she does get her feelings hurt,” Graves adds.
“But Will plays! He’ll bang all day long!” Honore says.
The G-rated hip hop star hasn’t been around that much for this tour, but he was there for a lot of the Ozzfest run. Smith says it opened her husband up creatively. “He was really inspired, checking out the dope ass musicians that were on that stage,” she says, “just seeing the difference of live music and what it does to the spirit of man.”
Smith says her husband is now getting jiggy with more rock-oriented signatures and live instrumentation. He’s even called Honore and other band members to get input on how to work with different sounds. “Everybody thinks that cat is one dimensional,” Honore says. “He’s not.”
The subject of Will’s transformation brings up one of the band’s biggest challenges: How does one get more black folks into this? “For black audiences, I think it’s important that we start expanding ourselves,” Smith says. “You know, black people say, ‘Oh, rock 'n’ roll is our music.’ Yeah, but you don’t listen to it. Why’s that?’”
She even complains that there’s no category for rock at the BET Awards, which she co-hosted last year along with her husband. She shakes her head in dismay. “Sometimes I feel like we’re our own worst enemy,” she says. “Because we limit ourselves more than anybody.”
For now the band will settle for a growing fan base of die-hard metal freaks, melanin deficiency and all. After the set Smith and company spend an hour at the souvenir stand signing CD covers, glossy photos, and T-shirts that read, “THIS AINT NO R&B SHIT!”