Review Summary: Will has some brief flashes of brilliance, but is mostly trapped in the realm of mediocrity.
It may be a shock to the younger hip-hoppers reading this, but Will Smith is a hip-hop legend. With an impressive track record spanning back to the ‘80’s, he’s been through it all: classic albums, mainstream success, and – ultimately – failure.
Despite his amazing collaborations with DJ Jazzy Jeff – arguably the greatest DJ of all time – and his impressive lyrical capabilities, Will don’t get no respect, no respect at all! Why? Well, it’s partially because he hung up the mic to pursue his acting, and partially (hell, mostly) because of bragging that he got a Grammy without doing something awful, like swear. You could think about it for days, weeks, and months and it not be able to come up with a stupider thing for a rapper to say. That’s basically disrespecting three generations of rappers all at once.
But is all this hate really justified? Has Will sold out, or has he just become too “real” for mainstream rap? Enter “Lost & Found.”
Will at least had the smarts to bring back DJ Jazzy Jeff for this one. “Here He Comes” is a well-produced intro to the CD that just reeks of the kind of kiddy-pop bull*** that made the duo so famous in the first place. But that’s the problem –who the *** wants to hear a middle-aged Will Smith harmonize with the “Spiderman” theme song?
“Party Starter” follows and – although it is energetic and a vaguely entertaining – it’s nowhere near the plateau set by Will’s earlier solo work. It’s like a “Getting’ Jiggin Wit It” remix featuring a pissy middle aged guy. “Switch” is pretty similar – the chorus is pretty good, but Will’s verses have no bite or intrigue.
“Mr. Niceguy” – about how Will is just a nice guy when you get to know him – is probably the ***ing stupidest idea Will could come up with to respond to disses from big name artists like Eminem, but, strangely, it works well. The chorus – although generally retarded – features the line “Y’all mistake nice for soft, so before I go off…” and the verses come even harder. Will is clever, flipping dope rhymes like it’s 1990 all over again, and pissed as hell. Peep the bridge where Will mocks his lack of “blackness,” saying “Will’s a nice guy! Why, he’s so nice I let him date my daughter like he was a white guy!” He takes up the guises of his enemies throughout the song, including one who calls him “Uncle Tom.”
“Ms. Holy Roller” is incredibly smart and easy to relate to; I never would have expected something like this from Will. It’s about that one chick who spent her whole life ***ing, cussing, and dosing and then magically transforms into a conservative bitch who tells everyone they’re going to hell for doing the same she did most of her life. Will points out that religious hate is behind innumerable atrocities, including 9/11.
The title track is in a similar vein – Will, known for hip-pop – comes out and spits *** smarter than the smartest of political rappers. The Fresh Prince is back, and better than ever.
Then “Tell Me Why” comes on and you feel your stomach sink. Will raps about 9/11 and is corny as hell. At least for a while. The first two verses are garbage, but eventually Will gets pissed and starts yelling “Why?!”, mourning everyone from MLK to Malcom and Biggie. As he rants, you feel your heart constrict a little and you want to tell him to chill. But then he screams “Why the ***?!” for the first time ever on record and your blood runs cold.
Will then proceeds to take you back to “Party Starter” with another bull*** party record that falls flat on its face with “I Wish I Made That / Swagga.” Skip!
Then Snoop and Will give you just what you expected from a modern day Will Smith – a well-produced song about how you should be nice and not swear. What a letdown.
After a bull*** love song I’m not even gonna waste time talking about, Will weaves the – allegedly true – story of a woman name “Loretta” that’s obsessed with him. It’s disturbing in the same way that “Stan” was, but it has far, far less weight, especially considering the lack of a proper ending to the story. She doesn’t even kill herself or anything.
The two songs that follow “Loretta” are consistently mediocre – not awful, but not very good, either.
Then there are two remixes of “Switch” – fortunately, both are good. His verses – like on the original – aren’t that great, but the beats and choruses are catchy as hell.
“Lost & Found” is a mixed bag. On half the tracks Will shows a newfound maturity and lyrical agility far superior to his previous releases, and on the other half he does garbage party tracks that are ***ty knockoffs of his previous releases. Don’t call it a comeback, but don’t call it wack, either.
Best Songs: Mr. Niceguy, Telll Me Why, Lost & Found, Switch (R&B Remix)
Classic Songs: None
Worst Songs: If U Can’t Dance (Slide), Could U Love Me
Rating: 2/5: Worth Checking Out