You can't help but respect Will Smith for continuing to make Will Smith albums -- street cred be damned -- and maintaining a semi-frequent release schedule, despite his more lucrative and demanding movie career. More than ever, despite all the hits he has racked up since the late '80s, it seems like Smith is an actor who happens to record every now and then, rather than a rapper who acts or even an actor/rapper. His previous album, 2002's Born to Reign, fell short of gold-level sales by some distance. That disappointment, combined with some blows he has taken from harder rappers and radio personalities, has made him a little bitter. This is one of the factors that makes Lost and Found the least party-oriented album Smith has made, despite a generous supply of the lighthearted, humorous songs you're accustomed to hearing from him. On "I Wish I Made That," he jokes about adopting more of a street persona in order to gain some respect ("Just ig'nant, attackin', actin' rough/I mean, then, will I be black enough?"), knowing full well that he'll always be thought of as, well, Will Smith. Smacks are dealt to a hypocritical (but not hypothetical) born-again Christian, as well as pretty much any larger than life MC riding high on the charts. "Tell Me Why" -- in the vein of Jadakiss' "Why," only far more dramatic, with Mary J. Blige on board to expected good effect -- is the most sobering song he has written, expressing how difficult it can be to explain the ugly aspects of the world to a child. Some of the playful songs are as joyously boisterous and willfully corny as anything in Smith's past, making Lost and Found an entertaining and thoughtful album for young kids and their parents to listen to and talk about.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Mary J. Blige
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feat: Nicole Scherzinger