Well, you can't accuse him of being in it for the money. Will Smith makes music for the sheer aesthetic jigginess of it, the unquestionably sincere desire to keep his part-time pop clout alive, and that's got to count for something. But maybe if Smith were in it for the money, he'd try a little harder not to suck. Born to Reign isn't as mind-frostingly awful as his last album, 1999's Willennium, but there still isn't another "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" here. The hip-hop Michael J. Fox gets oppressively pompous and smug with Ja Rule moves such as the title track. And "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)," in which he begs you to go see his crappy new movie, is as craven as his other movie themes. The one likable moment is "1,000 Kisses," with surprisingly competent singing by wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. Born to Reign, is a nice try from a nice guy, but the best you can say is that at least this time Smith doesn't commit any atrocities against the Stevie Wonder songbook.
(RS 902 - August 8, 2002)
(Posted: Jul 16, 2002)