Early mainstream rapper turned Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith, is set to return to music with a tour.

Smith announced Friday that his former duo, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, will reunite for a first-of-a-kind music tour.

"We never actually had a chance to go out and do a full tour," Smith told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

The duo in 1987 put out its first album, Rock the House, and within three years Smith was starring in popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, leading to a lucrative on screen career.

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"In that time, we just... were getting started and I never actually had a chance to go on tour, so I really want to get out there and do it for real," he said.

Rapper Will Smith and hip hop artist DJ Jazzy Jeff attend the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards in 1990. Photo / Getty
Rapper Will Smith and hip hop artist DJ Jazzy Jeff attend the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards in 1990. Photo / Getty

Smith, who did not announce dates for the tour, said the duo would perform old hits alongside "a stash" of new songs.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince won a wide following in the United States in the late 1980s as hip-hop was becoming mainstream.

Amid media scrutiny over rap's language and subject matter, the duo enjoyed ample radio play for clean-cut tunes such as Parents Just Don't Understand, which won the first rap Grammy.

Smith, who initially took to television after nearly going bankrupt through spending his newfound wealth, has since starred in blockbuster films such as the Men in Black series, as well as dramas Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, for which he earned Oscar nominations.

Smith has released four solo albums, the last in 2005, but said earlier this year that he had been working in a studio with rap giant Kanye West.

Last month Smith also made a brief return to rap as he collaborated on a song with the Colombian band Bomba Estereo.

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His former bandmate DJ Jazzy Jeff, whose real name is Jeff Townes, has toured in recent years as a solo artist.

The duo last performed together in a brief, surprise set in 2013 on The Graham Norton Show.

- AFP