Hip-hop may be the standard bearer for style as we know it, but as a culture that has produced slang like “dropping science” and “doing the knowledge,” it’s also revered and loved for its focus on education and providing substance to the lives of its practitioners. The scholars that hip-hop often embraces are more adjacent to the street and less of the scholastic variety, however, even many of the artists that bypassed a formal education have promoted the importance of information and seeking out not only knowledge of self, but the world around you. And while a number of rap fans and artists themselves weren’t afforded the opportunity to further their education past the grade-school level due to socioeconomic disparities, one TV show that helped make the collegiate lifestyle appealing and inspired generations of minorities to pursue higher learning was the classic sitcom A Different World.
A spin-off of the groundbreaking sitcom The Cosby Show, A Different World debuted on September 24, 1987, and quickly became a hit, mixing the feel-good ethos of The Cosby Show with more mature storylines based around the lives of students at Hillman College, a fictional historically black college in Virginia. Headlined by Lisa Bonet, who reprised her role as Denise Huxtable from The Cosby Show, the initial cast of the show also included Jasmine Guy (Whitley Gilbert), Kadeem Hardison (Dwayne Wayne), Dawn Lewis (Jaleesa Vinson-Taylor), Darryl M. Bell (Ronald “Ron” Johnson), and Sinbad (Coach Walter Oaks), many of whom would become central figures for the duration of the series.
However, A Different World would truly hit its stride during its second season, when cast members Charnele Brown (Kimberly Reese), Cree Summer (Winifred “Freddie” Brooks), Glynn Turman (Colonel Bradford Taylor) and Lou Myers (Vernon Gaines) were added to the show, rounding up its core.
In addition to addressing to promoting education and touching a myriad of hot-button topics impacting young minorities, one aspect of A Different World that helped make it resonate with its audience was its embrace of hip-hop, which was evident from the show’s inception. From the style of fashion to the slang used, A Different World was very much in turn with the culture and its artists, resulting in cameos from rap stars like Tupac Shakur, Heavy D, Kriss Kross, and Immature over the years. Even the characters themselves were unapologetically hip-hop, with many viewers finding a little of themselves within the likes of Dwayne Wayne, Ron Johnson, Lena James and others.
However, all good things must come to an end, which is what happened 25 years ago today when A Different World aired its last episode, concluding its six-season run as one of the more influential shows of not only its era, but of all-time. In celebration of the show’s seismic impact, REVOLT has gathered 25 of the most memorable lyrics inspired by A Different World that stand as a testament to its lasting legacy within hip-hop.
Kanye West, “Spaceship” ft. Consequence and GLC
“Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers / That’s a different world like Cree Summer’s, I deserve to do these numbers / The kid that made that deserves that Maybach / So many records in my basement, I’m just waiting on my spaceship”
Kanye West, “The Glory”
“I think Hennessy, I drink, I’m gone / Off that Bacardi Limon and Corona, I’m zonin’ / Class back in session so I upped it a grade / In two years, Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade”
Nicki Minaj, “Itty Bitty Piggy”
“I was on the plane with Dwayne / You can call me Whitley, I go to Hillman / Listen, I’m the baddest in the school, the baddest in the game / Excuse me, honey, but nobody’s in my lane”
Nicki Minaj, “Love Me”
“I could be Jada, you could be Willy / When you talking shit, I say, ‘Oh, you so silly’ / You could be Dwayne and I could be Whitley / Make me feel good like Halle and Billy”
J. Cole, “Best Friend”
“Know we be arguing, but ain’t you riding with me / We breaking up, we making up like Dwayne Wayne and Whitley / You throw things, you broke things, use both hands and hit me / And right when you call the law, I’ll tell my boy to come get me”
J. Cole, “The Last Stretch”
“I showed you love, I brought you through, I gave you pounds right? / Aye, in my face, you knew your place and so you smile, right? / So why I’m here, and now you talking like a little girl? / You sound like Whitley, nigga. Me? I’m from a different world”
Wale, “Cookup” ft. Tone P, Black Cobain and Stalley
“I ain’t tripping, nigga’s say that I’m pessimistic / But since Whitley Gilbert and Jada Pinkett, my world been different / These hoes thuggin, these nigga’s bitches don’t know the difference / Nigga’s ain’t family guys, these nigga’s cold Simpsons”
Wale, “Hold Yuh”
“I ain’t finished yet, I ain’t finished yet / Bitches love me out Houston like spinach dip / Get it, I got that cold flow, Winnipeg, this is work / I am in a different world, Winnefred / Jaleesa, all black Caprices / Bumpin’ ‘So Far Gone,’ goin’ on polices”
Lil Wayne, “Ride 4 My Niggas”
“I’m probably in the sky, flying with the fishes / Or maybe in the ocean, swimming with the pigeons / See my World is Different, like Dwayne Wayne / And if you want trouble, bitch, I want the same thang”
Drake, “Hype (Remix)” featuring Lil Wayne
“You ain’t worth a thing, you ain’t gang gang / You ain’t flame gang, you ain’t same gang / It’s my world, it’s Wayne’s world / It’s a different world, it’s Dwayne Wayne”
Fabolous, “Team Litty” ft. Jazzy
“If I’m sippin’ Bobby Brown you know I might go for Whitney / If I’m in a different world I might go for Whitley / Pack the linen suit, I got the loafers with me / Fly to Hawaii, I got Sophie with me”
A$AP Rocky, “Kissin’ Pink” ft. A$AP Ferg
“And I be on my Fergenstein / I stay on my money grind and I’m going outta my mind / Flying through the purple sky / And I’m in a different world and you kinda look like Jasmine Guy”
Gucci Mane, “Solo Shit”
“The difference is I don’t sneak diss man, I name names / A different world so I wear glasses like Dwayne Wayne / I get to rain dancing in a drought and then the rain came / Y’all sound the same like all y’all rapping with the same brain”
Jadakiss, “Bang Bang”
“Servin’ niggas just ain’t built to take pain / It take a certain special skill to bang, bang / Yeah, I could stand there and just look at your brains hang/ We’re from a different world, my nigga, the Dwayne Wayne”
Joe Budden, “So Lonely”
“Haters tried to put a stop to it, I had to do it with toast / They don’t like that I don’t do it like most, muhfucka / Can’t help the fact that I spit up acid / I’m from a different world, son, I’m Dwayne Wayne without the flip-up glasses”
Charles Hamilton, “You Don’t Know”
“We ain’t even kiss yet, but still / I already know she had special feel / But I’m so Charles Hamilton and she’s so Plain Jane / It’s kinda like Whitley falling for Dwayne Wayne”
Talib Kweli, “The Nature” ft. Justin Timberlake
“I’m so over cryin, waitin and hopin playin the blame game / The game changed me into a different world like Dwayne Wayne / I’m gettin high just to maintain / Take my music like a drug and drop the needle in the same vein”
Skyzoo and Torae, “Tunnel Vision”
“I’ve been different from jump, my kick game is so Dwayne Wayne / All that’s missing is the flip-ups and the fade / I’ve got Whitleys for days, konichiwa, it’s not a game though / Riches and the bitches is what I came for”
Skyzoo, “Complicated Rhythm”
“So all of what it leads to, started off the EQ/Wasn’t Dwyane Wade but I was on my Jordan 3 move/Wasn’t Dwayne Wayne but had a broad like Keanu/And jealous bitches called her “kee low-low”, I see you”
“Light a 50, sit back in the cranberry 550 / My slimes with me, this chick money hungry just like Whitley / From A Different World, she’s a different girl than others / Different furs in colors”
Cunninlynguists, “Mind Won’t Behave”
“Sister-Girl, Mrs. Curls from a different world / Like Dwayne Wayne and Whitley, couldn’t claim dame with hickies / We was young, dumb, I’m full of cum, yup, we all been / On phones late as fuck with a love on, through yawning”
Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, “My Contribution to This Scam”
“I’m wearing overalls one shoulder off / Dwayne Wayne flip glasses, syrup for my cough / It’s gone be lit. I ain’t wrote shit”
Open Mike Eagle, “I Went Outside Today” ft. Aesop Rock
“I found where all of my confident voices are’I’m feeling free 20 pounds on my oyster card / G’on ‘head with my Dwayne Wayne looking ass / I want a stupid mic stand carved from a wooden staff”
PRhyme, “Era” featuring Dave East
“Bitch, we not the same thing, me? I come from a different world/I flip you out yo’ frame like Dwayne Wayne then hit ya girl/Run up bare-faced broad day, the fuck I’ma wrestle for?/Leave your ass on Heaven’s staircase, touched at the chapel door”
Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, “If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right”
“Like a Prayer for Madonna but A Different World for Jasmine / CL is well a physical attraction / Let me make myself perfectly clear / While I’m there, I make a peer a positive pap smear”
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