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Will Smith 11/26/2002

Review

In retrospect, the point at which Will Smith went too far was with 1999's "Freakin' It," on which, over samples from "Love Hangover" and "Rapper's Delight," he boasted of his movie earnings, defended himself against charges of being a "soft" rapper, and criticized his peers. It was hard to dispute any of his arguments (though the citation of the American Music Awards as an example of his superiority seemed a bit of a stretch), but the song also emphasized -- in the wrong way, as far as fans were concerned -- how far Smith had come from Philadelphia, and it flopped. After that, his movies and records had to struggle more for attention. All careers go through peaks and troughs, however, and this collection of Smith's musical high points makes the case for his popularity, dating back to the late-'80s days of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, whose work is licensed from Jive Records for one-third of the tracks here. Not all of the early duo's hits are included, but the signature ones, particularly the breakout "Parents Just Don't Understand," are. In a sense, this is Smith at his most appealing, using rap to create novelty records that reveal the comic sense that later would light up movie screens. He remains engaging through solo hits like "Men in Black" and "Getting' Jiggy Wit It," even if he already seems to be starting to believe his press clips. By this point, the musical career has become an appendage of the movie career, and movie stardom begins to inform the raps, culminating in the defensiveness of "Freakin' It." Along the way, however, there is some clever writing, always put across by Smith's expansive personality, which enabled him to swim against the current of contemporary rap, at least for a time. ~ William Ruhlmann
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble [1988 Extended Remix] Will Smith 4:49
  3. 2 Parents Just Don't Understand [Single Edit] Will Smith 5:10
  4. 3 A Nightmare on My Street [Single Version] Will Smith 4:55
  5. 4 The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Will Smith 2:54
  6. 5 Summertime Will Smith 4:27
  7. 6 Just Cruisin' Will Smith 3:57
  8. 7 1,000 Kisses [Radio Edit] Will Smith 3:48
  9. 8 Men in Black Will Smith 3:45
  10. 9 Gettin' Jiggy Wit It Will Smith 3:46
  11. 10 Miami Will Smith 3:18
  12. 11 Freakin' It Will Smith 3:57
  13. 12 Will 2K Will Smith 3:53
  14. 13 Wild Wild West Will Smith 4:5
  15. 14 Nod Ya Head [The Remix] Will Smith 3:43
  16. 15 Just the Two of Us [Cover] Will Smith 5:15

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