While the rest of the world gets ready to celebrate the new millennium, Will Smith is doing some celebrating of his own with a new album called Willennium. He sat down with Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel to talk about it.
Smith says Willennium is the best work he has ever done.
But, he's quick to add, "[Willennium] will open at No. 1. Don't get me wrong."
Smith reunited with his old rap partner Jazzy Jeff for the album's first single, Will2K.
"Jeff and I, we're just kindred spirits," says Smith. "We're supposed to be together. We're just going to be together making records and having fun and families and kids forever."
Smith's wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, participated on another track. She performs the spoken words on Afro Angel.
Does it bother him that some fans dismiss his brand of rap as too commercial, too lightweight?
"I think what I do is different," says the entertainer, "and when people are different and when things are different, you break the mold, and it's outside of the norm, and I think people naturally have to defend what they're doing by saying that, 'Well, that's not good' and, you know, 'That's not real rap.'
"What I do is real," he continues. "I think that what I do is more difficult. I think it's hard to write an entire rap record with no profanity and still sell and still be able to create something that people are going to want to buy. But I think that people are enjoying the music that I make and, frankly, I don't understand why more artists aren't trying to do what I do."
Movies are an important part of his career. Currently, he is filming The Legend Of Bagger Vance with Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. In this golf saga, directed by Redford, Will Smith plays a wise caddy who doles out advice to Matt Damon, who plays a championship golfer during a 1931 tourney. But he has no plans to stop making records.
"Music is closest to my heart," he says. "When you make music, it's about the artist, you know. You make the music. I create it ad produce it and write it and create, essentially, a snapshot, sort of a microcosm of my life. It's a picture of my life, every album.
"When you make movies," he continues, "it's more you're like a tool to help someone else realize their vision."
While he says he is aware that his movie career has brought him great wealth, he adds that "it's weird" to talk about it.
"After your kids have clothes, after you have a car, and you have a house, and everyone's comfortable, everything else doesn't matter. Money really truly doesn't matter," he says. "No, really. It's fun. It's strictly about fun. Money just merely magnifies your personality. If you're an 'a' hole and have money, you'll be a bigger 'a' hole. You'll be a nicer, bigger caring guy, if that's who you were before. It doesn't change who you are."