How many of ya'll remember "Big Willie Style", Will Smiths first solo album, dropping back in 97'? Personally I was nine and still falling in love with hip hop. Mom dukes was definitely not cool with the raw sounds that pumped out the speakers on Biggie Smalls "Life After Death" or Capone-N-Noreagas "War Report." She thought Missy Elliots "Supa Dupa Fly" was a little vulgar and Busta Rhymes "When Disaster Strikes" was way too much for her. So at the time Will Smith was positive, clean, influential and had some bangers already nodding heads on the radio. Now if you want to talk street and say "Oh, he aint hip hop, thats pop music," you can do so. You wanna go into "Oh, he's an actor. He dont know the real." You can do that as well. But if you're here to talk hip hop, if you're here to talk good music with lyrics that speak truth and hold value...now we in discussion. Not every man from the hood sold dope. Not every man from the hood went to jail. Nor do we all have tattoos, been shot, been pimps or didn't finish school. That doesn't take away from the truth of the matter that you know where you came from no matter where you go. This album must be reviewed with all these aspects in mind. Plus the fact that he is from West Philly isnt somethin you can just look past.
Now, lets talk numbers. First of all, Will Smith received two Grammy's from the same category for tracks on the topic album! He is the only artist in HISTORY to do so. That fact alone stands as a landslide victory to some great artist. The album as a whole was certified 9X (thats nine times!) platinum by RIAA or Recording Industry Association of America. I mean really...9X!? I personally dont know or follow too many of the platinum ratings. But honestly, I've never heard 9. Heard double and triple, but hell, what is the term for 9 anyway? *LOL* Individual songs from this album broke records and went far beyond what many can't even stand up to. The single "Men In Black," though not released as a single in the U.S., stayed at number one in the U.K. for a month. That made it the 6th biggest single in 1997.
You know what, I can shower yall with facts all day about the man. The Grammys and awards, the charts and the movies but at the end of the day, this album is a true classic. Not enough attention in my eyes. The radio hits were glorified and played world wide. But listening to the album again for the first time since like 01' there are too many tracks that those who never heard it would never even know about. Half of what they listen to is thrown out the window and doesn't compare next to said tracks. If we are talking creativity, go to track four, "Candy". Bein real and telling people how it is, track seven "Dont Say Nothing." He has something for the ladies besides "Miami" and thats gotta be track five, "Chasing Forever." Theres plenty more to compare and argue points with but you'll only know if you check it out. I'll leave that up to ya'll.
Let's all welcome my man Loko into the BITM.com family, joining the likes of Just Mic and Twon Johnson! Remember, http://www.bestinthemix.com/ is your new source for hip-hop editorial pieces and bomb ass, true to life album and mixtape reviews! Next up, a review for Yelawolf's Shady Records debut, "Radioactive."