Gettin' jiggy with "Getting' Jiggy Wit It"

Egyptian dress and multi-colored suits? All part of Smith's appeal.

By Jonas Weir | Feb. 5, 2010

Tags: Music Re-listen


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To a kid who didn't grow up in the '90s, Will Smith's music video for "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" would seem to some either like a YouTube comedy video or career suicide. Seeing the blockbuster actor in a flashy, '90s hip-hop video seems surreal today, but the '90s were a strange time before Smith was an Academy Award-nominated actor.

Before Lil' Wayne was featured on every song and auto-tune ruled the airwaves, Smith was actually successful as a rapper. The year was 1998, the Spice Girls topped the charts, Notorious B.I.G. had died the previous year and Smith released "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," a single that would go on to top Billboard Hot 100 chart. Music was a different game back then. Songs with nonsense chorus lines were perfectly acceptable. Master P hit it big in 1997 with "Make 'Em Say Uhh!" I think Lady GaGa is bringing the nonsense with "Bad Romance." What the hell does "Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah! Roma Roma-ma! Gaga ooh la la!" mean?

A silver suit with huge sunglasses, an overly bright and puffy tracksuit, an Egyptian pharaoh costume and probably the most ridiculous multi-colored, collage of a suit I have ever seen are what define the music video. Smith breaks it down, spinning around, opening his jacket and even doing the splits. Instead of the video vixens you'd expect from a rap video, Smith's are girls dressed head-to-toe, and the Egyptian scene features more half-naked men than I'd care to see. The video, however, wouldn't be anything if it weren't accompanied by the true poetry of Smith.

"Cigar cigar from Cuba Cuba/I just bite it, it's for looks, I don't light it," is the line in this song that exemplifies the difference between "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" and rap today. Although the song does sound a lot like it's about doing the dirty, it's actually completely clean.

Now you can hear Lil' Wayne light a blunt before every song (see No Ceilings), but Smith is such a good role model he won't even smoke a cigar, let alone pot (Lil' Wayne said, "I will stand up for marijuana any day...I'm a rapper," in an interview with Katie Couric). It doesn't feature a single swear or outright reference to any sexual act, like "I Wanna Fuck You" by Akon.

To be fair to the song, it's quite catchy. Songs today just don't have record scratching like that. Who can't help but sing along when they hear "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"? Although, it's still almost as embarrassing as getting caught singing as "Party In The U.S.A." Despite its catchiness, I doubt Smith's rap could go up against today's music. I mean, can Smith's "Miami" really compete with LMFAO's?

Since then, Smith released his last record, Lost and Found, in 2005, which went gold. Yeah, I'm as surprised to hear that as you are. Until that record, each album enjoyed a movie soundtrack song including "Men in Black" and "Wild Wild West." Smith is the king of theme songs; even Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young covered "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme. So until "Men in Black III" comes out, I guess we'll just have to keep "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" and enjoy some all-star acting (See "Hitch").

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