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Will Smith - Greatest Hits Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Will Smith

Greatest Hits
format: CD
label: Columbia Records
release year: 2002
performance: 7
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

ImageThose with short memories may not recall how hunky actor Will Smith actually began his career in the Eighties as a rapper called the Fresh Prince. This led to his “Fresh Prince Of Bel Air” TV program in
1990. Next, it was time for Mr. Smith to go to Hollywood and become a movie star. Yet along the way, the musician in Smith never quite left him. This “best of” is all about Smith’s “other artistic side.”

Sometimes, the movie-Will and the musical-Will are almost inseparable, such as with his theme songs for “Men In Black” and “Wild Wild West,” which are both included here. Each of these tracks exhibit traits of what Smith does best, which is tell memorable stories through music. The only difference between these later tracks, and his earlier successes, is that they many times lack Smith’s good-natured humor. “Girls “Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “A Nightmare On My Street” all offer PG-rated funny raps that most parents concerned can appreciate, even if they may not always understand them.

Smith, who began as a comedic actor, has recently started to master the art of serious acting. The same cannot be said, however, of his music, as “harder” tracks like “Nod Ya Head” don’t exactly fit his established light-hearted personality. It’s just so hard to take that bright shining face of his too seriously.

Smith doesn’t have a particularly noteworthy voice, but what he lacks in vocal presence, he more than makes up for with inventive musical tracks. “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” for example, smartly works in the “Bewitched” theme; “Wild Wild West” joyfully borrows a vintage Stevie Wonder groove; and “Just The Two Of Us” nicely reworks a Bill Withers soul classic. Smith is at his best when he’s cast – at least musically – as the nice guy who is put into a really difficult situation. The listener always empathizes with his predicament, if nothing else.

One day, in the not so distant future, perhaps new fans of actor Smith will be heard to exclaim with surprise: “Wow, he’s musical, too!” Yet there will probably always be more than enough freshness in this musician-turned-actor’s sounds – whether the world chooses to recognize this truth or not.

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