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Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Casual Critic — Will Smith's Lost & Found

I first bought a Will Smith album years ago when his funny lyrics in songs like “Parents Just Don't Understand” caught my teenaged attention. Movie soundtrack songs like “Men in Black” and “Nod Ya Head” nudged me to take a chance a few years back on Born To Reign — an album I still keep in my shuffle rotation. Combining the humor many know him best for while getting a touch preachy now and then, Smith's latest, Lost and Found, is another very good outing by the Philly product.

“Switch” seems to be the first song making the rounds these days. A very smooth offering, it reminded me a touch of early (before he was a freak) Michael Jackson stuff. The lyrics are nothing special, but it's one of the better tracks. The remix is a harder version that moves even better, though as a white guy with Cerebral Palsy offering advice on what moves may not be wise.

“Could U Love Me” and “Lost and Found” are also very good, smooth tracks that would likely stay in the mix for a Top 40 fan with an open mind. The title track is unique with what my casual ear would call an interesting use of chello. It's a great reply to his critics who whine that he's not a true rapper.

“Pump Ya Brakes,” with Snoop Dogg, and “If U Can't Dance” bring out some of the best of Smith with a combination of very funny lyrics within songs that move. I also love the words in “Ms. Holy Roller,” which rolls its eyes at born-again christians (“You can't be dirt your whole life and say oops”), and “Mr. Nice Guy” is a funny retort regarding his image.

“Tell Me Why” is the first song I ever heard touch on 9/11, and offers some good lyrics. “Wave 'Em Off” is a bit preachy, a slight problem throughout the album, but other songs with that problem are good enough to overcome it. “I Wish I Made That” points out a similar problem — the song is ok, but there's just too many replies to his critics on the album.

The collection is rounded out by two seemingly autobiographical songs — “Lorretta” and “Scary Story” — along with “Party Starter” and “Here He Comes,” none of which do a lot for me.

If you like what you hear from Smith on the radio, or want to go a little beyond the Top 40, Lost and Found is definitely worth listening to.

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