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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Will Smith

Big Willie Style

Review by Gary Hill

As Eminem once pointed out, "Will Smith doesn't have to swear to sell records". Non-vulgar rap/hip hop is certainly a rarity these days, but Smith pulls it off. Granted his stance has earned him detractors in the hip-hop community, but he takes it all in stride, making fun of the fact that he is not considered hardcore, as he disagrees with those who make the claim. Hardcore or not, that debate is not important. What is important is the fact that Smith has a genuineness and fun-hearted nature and he combines it with some great jams that encompass a wide range of musical styles. Oh, and he can rap! This album is truly a good introduction to the world of hip-hop for those who might be a bit intimidated by the genre, and it should entertain more hardcore fans, if they just sit back and let it do its work.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Intro
This is a spoken word intro made to seem like a reporter describing the scene. Eventually an interviewer starts asking Smith questions in a challenging manner.
Y'All Know
This groove has a great texture, as Smith, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, raps up the virtues of his career. This is a great, fun second introduction to the album.
Gettin' Jiggy Wit It
You have to love any rap that gets quoted by King Crimson. Truth of the matter, this groove, a hit for Smith, shows him in fine form and has a killer texture.
Candy
Starting with a great vocal line, Smith is joined here by Larry Blackman and Cameo. The rap is all about the narrator putting the moves on a woman. Its bass line has a bit of an odd feel to it, but this jam is more R & B and less hip-hop. As he carries on with his pickup regime, he starts working it all based off of various names of candies.
Chasing Forever
A great piano line begins this in another R & B texture. As the rap comes in, though, it is more full on hip-hop. This is a good romantic groove, though, and the chorus is full in that loving R & B mode. It gets rather powerful and evocative.
Keith B. Real I (Interlude)
A bit more of the interview, this time the interviewer is trying to get a lady on the street to put down Smith.

Don't Say Nothin'
This is a straightforward, barely adorned rap, and Smith can truly weave the rhymes.
Miami
The ultimate hit of the CD, this one is a killer. It is just plain good time fun. I dare you to listen to this and say that Smith has no talent or that hip-hop is all throw away. Occasionally a quality song does make it on the pop charts.
Yes, Yes, Y'All
 Featuring a guest appearance by Camp Lo, this one is another cool groove. Smith can sure pull off the smooth track with rap over top quite well.

I Loved You All
Another that's more pure rap, this one is alright, but a bit weak compared to the rest of the disc. Still, the chorus is strong.

Keith B. Real II (Interlude)
This time the interview is really beginning to act desperate. In this continuation "Keith" tries quite hard to get Smith to give him the "hook up".

It's All Good
This may be all about how great Smith's life is, but we should all get behind this chorus.

Just The Two Of Us
A rap about fatherhood, this one starts with a spoken word intro from Smith's son. The track is touching and quite cool. This one could make anyone want to be a parent.

Big Willie Style
This one has a guest appearance by the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez of TLC. It is more good clean fun. Lopez has an awesome rap here.

Men In Black
The theme some from the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones film, this great sci-fi oriented hip-hop number is a lot of fun. Maybe Madonna should give this a listen before considering doing another movie theme song.
 
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