From the Vault...


Will Smith

© Columbia Records


track listing
  • I'm Comin'
  • Will 2K
  • Freakin' It
  • Da Butta
  • La Fiesta
  • Who Am I
  • Afro Angel
  • So Fresh
  • Pump Me Up
  • Can You Feel Me
  • Potnas/Interlude
  • No More
  • Uuhhh
  • Wild Wild West
  • The Rain

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    Will Smith

    The Artist Formerly Known As The Fresh Prince ... Will Smith's finest moment (as Will Smith) was his #1 hit, "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" (from his first solo record - Big Willie Style (1997). Quite notably this song is about fashion, where others stated it was about dancing, or sexual connotations. His next solo album was Willennium, and, as expected, Will Smith is one of those rappers who doesn't emphasize on the negativities of the rap industry: Dirty Sex, (Gang) Violence, and Drugs. He has to uphold his "clean image" -- not only as a music rapper, but as an accomplished actor in the big movies. Still, Independence Day has to be his most finest movie.

    Willennium will please rap fans, and possibly some of the "not a big fan of Rap, but I can listen to [fill in the blank]" -- This case being Will Smith. All the songs are clean, not violent, not vulgar. And listening to just the music melodies, they all have a great sense of good rhythms, and not head pounding, and annoying.

    "I'm Comin'" leads off the album, and this song is just ok. But the album gets much better with each track as they come by. "Will 2K" samples The Clash's "Rock The Cashbah," which would bring a chuckle to the rock fan, and how most rappers sample classic Rock tunes. Diana Ross' "Love Hangover" sets the pace for sampling on the next track, "Freakin' It." "Da Butta" has the old school rap sound. The "whoop whoops" should get the part started on "Da Butta," making this sound a typical house party tune.

    "Who Am I" definitely has today's Rap/R&B style. "Afro Angel" slows down the pace as a good, smooth R&B styled track. Typical Rap (and not considered a favorite to my tastes) has the next track - "So Fresh." (I was hoping this track would have sampled "Fresh" by Kool & The Gang.)

    "Pump Me Up" leads off the "ha-ha-ha" as it also has the "Uhh uhh uhh" in "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." Yet it's just another typical (and annoying) Rap tune. "Can You Feel Me" has the fast-paced rap vocals. Entertaining? Hardly, it's just another typical Rap tune.

    Now the album is getting to sound just like any other typical Rap artist album -- "Potnas" has an eerieness about it. Yet it's clean, it's has a certain mystery around it. (This track kind of reminds me of the style of Nas' "Street Dreams." And also maybe a track from DMX - Flesh Of My Flesh Blood Of My Blood.) "No More" is pretty good, and could pass on a few Smooth Jazz/R&B playlists. It's smooth, it's cool. Love the music of this song, most imporantly.

    With a title such as "Uuhhh" -- Yep, it's another Rap tune. Something futuristic about this song -- another artist who would emerge in the next decade -- Kanye West.

    Probably considered "the best" track, and using a great song sampler, is the song "Wild Wild West," as it samples Stevie Wonder's "I Wish." Good news: This song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bad news: The song was from a movie based on the TV show of the same name. I never saw the movie, but the reviews were bad; it sucked. The album closes with the soulful Rap tune, "The Rain." Not bad of a song; I've heard better, I've heard worse.

    A little disappointed on Willennium -- The first 7 tracks (especially tracks 2-7) kept a good flow. Yet it's today's "popularity of Rap" that Will Smith includes to the mix. Not exactly my "cup of tea," yet other songs past the rapping gets a nod of approval. Will Smith does have a good blend of music to his repretoire. It's just sometimes that rap-rap-rappin' gets on our nerves.

    We'll be reviewing his first solo album, Big Willie Style in the future. I'm curious if that album is better than Willennium. As some crtics mentioned, Will Smith was looking ahead to the future of music, and his music/career -- Willennium is a great title, but his future held more prosper with his movies. He's released two other solo albums, in 2002 (Born To Reign) and 2005 (Lost And Found). No major hits from these two albums, yet I'm sure it easily fits today's Rap and R&B genres.

    Will Smith did get a little help from his first music partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff. Together they recorded as DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Two songs I remember by them were "Parents Just Don't Understand," and "Nightmare On My Street." Interesting to know that the Producers of Willennium is credited as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Will Smith fans and true Rap fans will probably enjoy Willennium. The title of the album is probably this album's best highlight.

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    Previous Review: #1282
    Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble--Live Alive
    Next Review: #1284
    Mannheim Steamroller--Fresh Aire 8