Music Review: Will Smith

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Will Smith

Born To Reign

[Columbia Records]

When I was in the record store I overheard the person next to me exclaim sarcastically, "Oh look! It's Will Smith on vinyl," laughing at the thought that anyone might want to buy it.

I thought back over the past couple of years and couldn't count the number of anti-Will Smith references I have heard among supposedly dedicated hip-hop fans. This includes disses on records from the likes of Chino XL and others. I assumed these comments simply came from so called haters who couldn't stand whoever was at the top. But how could these underground battle MCs who supposedly grew up on hip-hop talk bad about Will Smith? The music put out by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince clearly out does anything they are capable of. No one will dispute that. Even "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" was an entertaining song. Having not heard a full album by Will Smith since the one "Summertime" was on, the first DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince album I wasn't feeling very well, I thought it was time to see what was up with this goofy pioneer from Philly.

I expected "Born to Reign" to have potential. "Nod Ya Head", the single from the "Men In Black II" movie, was not exactly my style but it did have that sort of energy that I like. Surely there would be something else on the album with that type of emotion but without all of that guitar. Unfortunately there is nothing really on the album. The best song is probably "Act Like Ya Know." It has a club beat, but also harp sounds and a guy singing some cheesy chorus. It is strange that someone who used to make what could be called the apitomy of hip-hop, could now be making corny pop songs, but that is the case. Maybe I'll have to go see what DJ Jazzy Jeff is up to.

Nirav Layton


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