Showing posts with label Rap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rap. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Will Smith's Big Willie Style

Fear not, loyal readers. I have not forsaken you and skipped over the Fresh Prince. I know how important it is to you, and how much you'd like to watch a video of the Carlton dance on repeat. I promise it will be in a separate post, as Will Smith was sort of a 90s renaissance man. Well, a renaissance man with neon sideways hats who was partial to using words like "jiggy". Nonetheless.

Will Smith is a jack of all trades, starting his career as the Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff in producing upbeat, clean, radio-friendly raps that included such classic titles as "Parents Just Don't Understand." This was mainstream rap at its finest, appealing to young people across the board. In the mid-90s, following his eponymous role as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Smith released the album Big Willie Style. This was mid-to-late-90s pop rap at its finest, featuring up-tempo beats and squeaky-clean lyrics. This kind of thing would never have taken off today. I'm pretty sure today's rappers have some sort of bitch-and-hoe per verse quota.

Allow me to take you on a gloriously 90s trip back in rap time, back to an age of semi-innocence, where rapping about fighting aliens or hanging out with your kid was good enough to take the airways by storm. Yes, really. I know, I know, it sounds made up, but this was the real deal back in the day. You know. Big Willie style's all in it. Or so he claimed.

Men in Black

I will openly admit that this was the first movie (okay, fine, Gremlins too) that gave me a barrage of nightmares about frightening little burrowing creatures. Did I mention these films were comedies? I must have led a sheltered cinematic life. Men in Black featured a song by the same name performed by none other than its slick co-star Will Smith. Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were ultra-cool non-governmental agents charged with covering up and/or policing from earthbound alien action. You may think it's tough to bust out some bad-ass rhymes based on a movie based on a comic book, and you may be right. The song was definitely catchy, though, featuring incredibly literal lyrical descriptions like these:

The good guys dress in black remember that
Just in case we ever face to face and make contact
The title held by me MIB
Means what you think you saw you did not see
So don't blink be what was there is now gone
The black suits with the black ray bans on

Walk in shadow move in silence
Guard against extra terrestrial violence
But yo we ain't on no government list
We straight don't exist no names and no fingerprints
Saw somethin' strange watch your back
Cause you never quite now where the MIBs is at

Yes, that is pretty much the whole plot of the movie. Sweet synopsis, Will. For the full effect, here's the music video. You can't say you don't find those aliens a tiny bit frightening. Really? Not at all? Just me? Okay then.

Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It

Don't be fooled by all of those well-placed prematurely word-ending apostrophes--they are a well-calculated ploy to seem cool and hip while maintaining a spotlessly innocent rapping character. Well, depending on your definition of "jiggy", that is. Luckily there was no officially agreed-upon meaning to this mysterious slang term, meaning we could not ascertain the exact connotations of Smith's songs. According to*, there are a few definitions of "jiggy" out there:

Here's the original:
jig⋅gy–adjective, ‑gi⋅er, ‑gi⋅est. Slang.
1. nervous; active; excitedly energetic.
2. wonderful and exciting, esp. because stylish.

And here are what I can only assume to be the ensuing speculations:

Main Entry:
Part of Speech:
Definition: excited or involved; also, to get involved with sexuall
Example: Jennifer Lopez has gotten jiggy with a few men

Main Entry: jiggy
Part of Speech:
Definition: cool, totally cool

Example: I am jiggy with that idea

Please also direct your attention to Daria's episode "The Lost Girls", which features more than a fair smattering of use of this elusive term.

Featuring lyrics like this, I'm inclined to guess the connotations aren't so much sexual as jig-dancing. Main clues: his admission to not actually smoking cigars and the gratuitous use of pig-latin.

Everybody lookin at me
Glancin the kid

Wishin they was dancin a jig
Here with this handsome kid
Ciga-cigar right from cuba-cuba
I just bite it
Its for the look I dont light it
Illway the an-may on the ance-day oor-flay
Givin up jiggy make it feel like foreplay


This song is brilliant in its simplicity, as its only real purpose to to extol the virtues of Miami in rap-form. He does make it sound pretty good, what, with all of the bouncing in the club where the heat is on and those Dominican women with cinnamon tan. Clever rhyme, right? I thought so.

One thing I'll say for Smith: he does not disrespect women in his song. While other rappers make the women in their lyrics say all sorts of demeaning things, in "Miami" their lines are pretty straightforward, if a bit Will Smith ego-inflating. They're always being like, "Hi Will!" or telling him how much they loved his last hit, and occasionally if they've had a few maybe they'll moan "Aii Poppy." They're even a bit educational, teaching us some Spanish along the way. That's right. I can now say Buenvenidos a Miami. Thanks, Smith backup singers!

Just the Two of Us

You've got to hand it to Will--he really knows how to make the ladies say "awww". While the original Bill Withers version of "Just the Two of Us" was about romantic love, Smith went ahead and made it about his love for his son. Geez, what are you going for, an honorary uterus or something? That's just so...sensitive.

I mean, really, Will. These lyrics. Mushy. The mushiest. What happened to good old fashioned rap? If you had any doubt that the genre'd gone soft on you, here's your proof:

From the first time the doctor placed you in my arms
I knew Id meet death before Id let you meet harm
Although questions arose in my mind would I be man enough
Against wrong choose right and be standin up
From the hospital that first night
Took a hour just ta get the carseat in right
People drivin all fast got me kinda upset
Got you home safe placed you in your bassinet
That night I don't think one wink I slept
As I slipped out my bed to your crib I crept
Touched your head gently felt my heart melt
Cause I know I loved you more than life itself
Then to my knees and I begged the lord please
Let me be a good daddy all he needs
Love knowledge discipline too
I pledge my life to you

I guess it just goes to show: you don't need to be shocking to be successful. You just need to be devastatingly handsome, have your own sitcom, star in an endless string of box-office blockbusters, and become an international celebrity. Don't tell anyone I told you this, though. Who knows what could happen if this type of information gets into the wrong hands.

*The official dictionary of the lazy and internet-addicted. Also, those sample sentences? Wow.

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