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Will Smith: Lost and Found

Will Smith: Lost and Found

Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Al Shipley | Posted 5/4/2005

These days a new Will Smith album is met with understandable derision or indifference. Any fond memories of the quick-witted teenage Fresh Prince of the ’80s are colored by his subsequent ascent as an almost oppressively successful multimedia star with a theme song to go along with each hit movie. And though he’s still box-office gold, the cross-promotional singles gradually lost their luster, and Smith fell back and abdicated the pop-rap throne to the Black Eyed Peas.

Throughout Lost and Found, Smith grapples with a hip-hop fan base that has no use for him anymore. On “I Wish I Made That,” he laments that urban radio has ignored him since “Summertime,” and admits jealousy that he isn’t making hits like “Lean Back” or “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” On the title track, he gripes about conformity in the rap game, wearing his lack of street cred as a badge of individuality.

But most of Smith’s attempts at originality actually echo contemporary hits. “Tell Me Why” is Jadakiss’ “Why” writ overwrought; “Could U Love Me” is an interrogation of romantic devotion in the mold of 50 Cent’s “21 Questions.” And Eminem should take more offense to the “Stan” rewrite “Loretta” than Smith’s belated disses on “Mr. Niceguy.” But there’s less precedent for “Ms. Holy Roller,” a surprisingly venomous tirade against religious fundamentalists and easily the album’s most intriguing moment. On it, Smith taps into an angry, opinionated adulthood that suits him better now than all the squeaky-clean party jams in the world.

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