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Record Rating: *****

Will Smith - Lost & Found - Universal Music Beginning his career during the mid-'80s under the name the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’, by the next decade Will Smith became one of the biggest superstars of our time. Not only a pop music sensation, he also conquered television and feature films, starring in a string of box-office megahits – from Independence Day to Men In Black.

Ladies and gentlemen, Will Smith is back. With his 9th studio album Lost & Found, the Fresh Prince once again proves that he can rap with the best of them. The first single off the CD, Switch, also appears on the Hitch soundtrack, and is a hot video playing on the TV channels now. Smith also proves he hasn't forsaken his hip-hop roots on the Jazzy Jeff–produced Here He Comes, which smartly samples the Spider-Man theme. Then there’s the title cut, which has a head-bobbing beat.

There are fifteen tracks, with one hidden bonus track, and while the Academy Award nominated actor will never be mistaken for 50 Cent, he's also more aggressive and focused on this record than his previous releases. There are moments where the album falls flat though. Pump Ya Brakes has tight production, but Snoop Dogg dampens it with his weak lyrics and a lame hook. But the good songs outnumber the bad ones. On his past CD's, he did songs for his son, and he does so again in this album. The song Tell Me Why discusses the issues of the day, and asks how you explain it to children when they ask about what has happened. You can hear his sincerity in his music here, and you got to respect him for coming up with an album about the grown-up, family values having, successful black man. Will didn't sell out before and he still doesn't.

People don't like to admit that Smith is just about the smartest rapper out there. Which with Lost & Found, he shows once again that he is. Will Smith proves you don't have to degrade women, brag about expensive cars and glorify violence to make an entertaining rap record. Clean-cut, witty, and easygoing, the bubblegum approach is a stark contrast to the dominant, harder-edged rap sound of today’s X-rated rappers Eminem and 50 Cent. He's still the dopey, clean-cut Fresh Prince of Bel Air, turning out parent friendly records. This is a good thing.

Read our other reviews:

Mariah Carey - The Emancipation Of Mimi       The Darkness - Permission To Land       Rock 2005 - Various Artists       Athlete - Tourist      


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