220px-WillSmith-BigWillieStyleWill Smith – “Just The Two of Us” – (1997)

This isn’t a direct cover of the Grover Washington Jr./Bill Withers song of the same name, but that song is sampled heavily in the chorus. But Will raps the verses about being a dad to his sons. It reached #20 on the Hot 100 in 1998.

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The Whispers – “And the Beat Goes On” – (1980)

This is the song Will Smith sampled for “Miami” but it’s good enough on its own – it didn’t need any Fresh(Prince)ening . The Whispers were highly underrated as an R&B group… The Commodores got all the attention (and airplay… on the pop stations at least). This is a great post-disco soul dance track. It’s just plain funky.

#121 – Will Smith feat. K-Ci – “Will 2K” – (1999)

I can sing this entire song… when I typed “Will 2K” into the top I didn’t know if I should be putting “Wild Wild West” up there instead, then I listened to this again and realized I was correct. Side note: if you’re familiar with Willennium you’ll know that the album version of “Wild Wild West” contains a weird intro where Will and his son are discussing filling time on the album and that’s the only reason “Wild Wild West” even made the album – to fill time – it already was huge from the movie’s soundtrack. “Will 2K” is another one of those new-millennium songs that were popular at the end of 1999. The other single from this album was “Freakin’ It” – but it’s not even close to being on the same level as the other two.

#149 – Will Smith – “Miami” – (1998)

“Miami” was released as a single in late 1998 from Big Willie Style (1997) and Will Smith made Miami sound so cool in the years between Miami Vice and CSI: Miami. Look for a not-yet-famous Eva Mendes in the video. Also, check out his version of “Just The Two of Us,” which I prefer to the Grover Washington, Jr. & Bill Withers original.

#173 – Will Smith – “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” – (1997)

How cool was Big Willie Style? Like it or not, ‘jiggy’ was the word there for a little while. I mean, really, watch the music video and guess the decade it’s from. This album (and this song) really kicked off Smith’s post-Fresh Prince career and made him the superstar that he is now. Don’t forget his first movie-theme/music-hit “Men In Black.”