Rolling Stone (12/11/97, p.76) - 3.5 Stars (out of 5) - "...crackles with the lucid energy of early-'80s rap hits....he displays the confident craft of a screenwriter and the unthreatened bounce of a guy with little to prove....an exceptional megacelebrity album."
Q (10/01, p.151) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Packed with impossibly summery hits...this film star really can rap."
Vibe (2/98, p.122) - "...The saving grace of the former Fresh Prince is that, as an MC, he's never taken himself too seriously....BIG WILLIE STYLE's wisecracking, fun-filled material is expected--and fun to digest..."
The Source (12/97, p.180) - "...BIG WILLIE STYLE isn't high on INDEPENDENCE DAY caliber stunts--it's what you'd expect from a rapper who also happens to be one of the most popular actors in the world..."
Personnel: Will Smith, Larry Blackmon, Cameo, Fuzzy, Ryan Toby, Valvin Roane, Tia Mintze, Left Eye, Camp Lo (vocals); Sauce (various instruments); David Foreman (guitar); Timothy "Tyme" Riley, Keith Winfield (keyboards); Lanar "Kern" Brantley (bass); Poke And Tone, Rob Chiarelli, L.E.S. (drum programming); DJ Jazzy Jeff (scratches); Kenny Greene, Trey Lorenz, Tricia Covington, Coko (background vocals).
Producers include: Poke And Tone, Andreo Heard, L.E.S., Jeff Townes, Keith Pelzer.
Engineers: Ken Ifill, Poke And Tone, Keith Pelzer, Jeff Townes.
"Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
High points in this smoothly produced debut solo effort from the rapper formerly known as Fresh Prince include his occasional moments of tenderness, especially "Just the Two of Us," on which Smith addresses his young son against a sample of Bill Withers's song of the same name: "From the first time the doctor placed you in my arms/I knew I'd meet death 'fore I let you meet harm." Smith reveals another hint of vulnerability on "Forever," when he describes his girlfriend: "She...makes me feel that forever is a possibility."
What distinguishes BIG WILLIE STYLE, though, are the same playful mood and nimble rhymes that characterized Smith's DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince days. He describes his modus operandi on the lyrically dexterous "Yes, Yes Y'all:" "I rip rhymes for the flow of it/you know the show of it/not the Benz 600 four-door of it/I'm-a rhyme regardless of earnin' long as my heart keeps yearnin'/I got's to keep burnin'."