In a trailer for the new live-action remake of Aladdin from a couple months ago, Will Smith’s Genie sang part of one of the film’s most iconic songs, “Friend Like Me.” Now the entire soundtrack is out, and it actually includes two distinct versions of the song: One that’s more similar to the original, and other more hip-hop-oriented rendition (listed as the “End Title” version) that features DJ Khaled.
The standard version has a recognizable instrumental that’s pretty in line with the original spirit of the song, but with Smith’s personality sprinkled in throughout. Meanwhile, the hip-hop version comes across as more of a rap song that’s inspired by the original that features lyrics like, “I’m the coolest, bluest one of ’em all / You can wish to be rich, you can wish to be tall / You can wish away the haters, you just gimme a call / You can wish for what you want ’cause I’m granting ’em all.”
Smith said in a press release:
“I went into the studio the first day and I really wanted to play with it to see if I could add something to it. Literally 30 minutes in the studio, and started to play with the song [and] the 94/96 BPM range. That BPM range is right old-school hip-hop. So I grabbed The Honey Drippers ‘Impeach Your President’ and I had them throw that breakbeat under there. I messed around with that. And I messed around with Eric B. & Rakim’s ‘I Know You Got Soul’ under ‘Friend Like Me.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m home!’ I started playing with the hip-hop flavor, and the Genie was really born in my mind from the music.”
Smith also previously spoke about taking on the iconic role from Robin Williams, saying that he isn’t trying to compete with his predecessor: “Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying. The question is always: Where was there meat left on the bone? Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character… I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete.”
Listen to both versions of “Friend Like Me” above, and listen to the full Aladdin soundtrack below.