Get jiggy wit it on the 20th anniversary of Will Smith’s debut album “Big Willie Style.”
Story by Alexis Tatum
The iconic album was released on Nov. 25, 1997, just one year after the last episode of his hit show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” aired. “Big Willie Style” included hit songs like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and “Men in Black,” which later became the theme song for the film series of the same name.
Despite releasing a successful album that received accolades including the American Music Award for favorite soul/R&B album in 1999, Smith shifted from music back to acting, setting himself up to become one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood.
A jack of all trades, Will Smith is an actor, producer, rapper, comedian and songwriter. He married actress Jada Pinkett Smith a month after “Big Willie Style” was released, and their children, Willow and Jaden, are following their parents’ footsteps by entering the realms of both music and film. Growing up in the spotlight, the siblings have landed several major acting roles, even starring alongside their father in films like “I Am Legend” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
As of late, the Smith siblings seem to be taking to music. Willow released “The 1st” on Oct. 31, followed by Jaden’s “Syre” on Nov. 17. It is safe to say that this is the season for music from the Smith clan.
Will Smith’s “Big Willie Style” was categorized as hip-hop, contemporary R&B, funk and pop-rap, according to various album reviews. The album stood out because of its fluidity, straying away from the gangsta rap that was common in the early ‘90s.
It seems that Smith has passed along his diverse music taste. Both Jaden and Willow’s albums are multidimensional and somewhat difficult to categorize.
Willow’s “The 1st” combines a sultry R&B voice with beautiful guitar instrumentation that sounds much like alternative music of the ‘90s. Jaden’s “Syre” has been described as “genre-fluid and dense” by Exclaim! Magazine. “Syre” delivers a manifold of sounds, following various musical influences Jaden has drawn inspiration from and creating a sound that is altogether unique.
ORANGE Magazine celebrates “Big Willie Style” on its 20th birthday and the timeless influences it has left behind. After all, the creator of the emblematic album literally birthed a new generation of influential and creative music that will remain enjoyable for years to come.