It's been 23 long years since "Parents Just Don't Understand" made Will Smith a rap star. Since then, he's top-lined the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, earned the nickname Mr. July for his ability to open summer blockbusters, and been nominated for two Academy Awards. Now, according to hip-hop producer Mars Edwards, Smith may be heading back to the studio to record a new album. The star of films like I Am Legend and Independence Day hasn't released music in eight years. Is there still room in the industry for him to get jiggy wit it?
Welcome back, Mr. Smith: With all the box-office success he's pumped out, it's easy to forget that Smith also scored as an extremely talented emcee, says Kyle Anderson at Entertainment Weekly. His 1988 collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, is "a seminal release for the genre." And "the dude has made some excellent party jams in his time" (see "Men in Black"). His musical legacy more than earns him the right to return to the arena.
"Will Smith making a new album? A producer says yes"
He'll have a hard time sounding relevant: With his family-friendly, bouncy tracks, Smith always struggled to craft a believably gritty hip-hop image, says Katherine St. Asaph at Pop Dust. And that's going to be harder still given his mainstream, family-friendly film career. In the era of Kanye, Jay-Z, and Lil' Wayne, "will he have to cuss in his raps to sell records this far on?"
"Will Smith working on new album"
This might be associated with Men in Black III: Smith contributed the theme track for both his Men in Black films, says Kevin Jagernauth at Indie Wire. The first song, "Men in Black," was a "catchy, but throwaway track," while the second, "Nod Ya Head (Black Suits Comin')" was a far less successful musical "rock/rap hybrid of sorts." If Smith is hitting the studio again, it's likely to record a third MIB-themed song for the next sequel's 2012 release. Given that the actor's last film debuted in 2008, he'll want to amp up his comeback in a big way.
"Will Smith probably doing a new song for Men in Black 3"