June 29, 2005 at 11:11 PM EDT

Give Will Smith credit for having enough nerve to bite the hand that first fed him. At last night’s BET Awards, which he and Jada hosted, the couple issued some tongue-in-cheek rules for music award winners, including, ”Do not thank God if you cannot perform your work in church.” That was mild compared to his remarks in an Associated Press interview before the show, where he managed to criticize gangsta rappers for being poor role models without sounding cranky or sanctimonious, like another former NBC sitcom star we could name. Says Big Willie:

”The dude that sells the drugs or has the guns or is most willing tokill somebody is the dude that has the greatest potential for survival,or at least that’s the perception. So that’s what people strive for. What I’m trying to present and what a lot of other artists arepresenting is a different approach to survival and a more soundapproach to survival. It’s a more long-term approach based on intellectand skills that can’t be taken away from you: The smartest dudesurvives the best.”

He also managed to tweak BET itself for not playing videos by more positive-minded rappers, like Common, Mos Def, or himself. Read the rest of his interview here.

addCredit(“Will Smith: John D McHugh/AP”)

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