This album was probably more noteworthy for what it represented, than any impact it might have on my musical tastes. Big Willie Style was my first CD, and as such, it was a pretty big deal.
It was the spring of ’98, and in preparation for a class trip, I’d just picked up my first portable CD player (a refurbished BiWay special). The next obvious task was taking that big step in my adolescent life, and purchasing my first album. But before getting the bonus street-cred that came along with owning a music collection (as far as I was concerned, one CD still constituted a collection), I needed to decide what album to buy.
Big Willie Style was basically the Thriller/Frampton Comes Alive of it’s time. It had that same massive cross-over success, and everybody seemed to have at least one copy. Keeping that in mind, it seemed like a pretty safe bet for my first step into music ownership. Fortunately for me, the masses proved to be right on this one, and I ended up really enjoying it.
Being the only CD in my posession, Big Willie Style got plenty of playtime, and thankfully offered plenty of variety. On top of the excellent mix of dance, pop, and hip-hop music, it was part comedy album. Mixed in between the music tracks, was an ongoing narrative featuring Jamie Foxx as Keith B-Real, a fast talking media personality, out to hound Will Smith into listening to his demo-tape. The whole thing was pretty cheesy in retrospect, but it all fit the lighthearted atmosphere of the album.
To this day, pretty much any track from this album is guaranteed to make me smile with nostalgia, and instantly feel like imitating that signature “Gettin’ Jiggy” dance. “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”, “Miami”, and “Just the Two of Us” are the big hits, but I always recommend a listen to “Chasing Forever”. It’s a sweet, laid back song about the optimistic search for a meaningful, long term relationship, even after life’s thrown a few curve balls.