Willard Christopher "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, film producer and pop rapper. He has enjoyed success in music, television and film. Smith has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won multiple Grammy Awards.
In the late 1980s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The show ran for nearly six years (1990–1996) on NBC and has been syndicated consistently on various networks since then. In the mid-1990s, Smith transitioned from television to film, and ultimately starred in numerous blockbuster films that received broad box office success.
Smith started as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, with his childhood friend Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes as turntablist and producer as well as Ready Rock C (Clarence Holmes) as the human beat box.
The group received the first rap Grammy ever in 1989 for "Parents Just Don't Understand", though their most successful single was "Summertime" which earned the group their second Grammy and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Smith and Townes are still friends and claim that they never split up, having made songs under Smith's solo performer credit. To date, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince sold over 5.5 million albums in the US.
“Big Willie Style” was his first solo studio album after spending most of his career as the latter half of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Released in 1997 it featured a total of four hit singles, "Men in Black" (released earlier in the year on the soundtrack for the movie of the same name), "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," "Miami" and "Just the Two of Us", a cover of the Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers song of the same name. Worldwide sales of the album are over 14 million, making it one of the best-selling rap albums of all time. Smith won two Grammy Awards in the Best Rap Solo Performance category for the songs "Men in Black," in 1997, and "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," in 1998, making him the only artist in history to receive two Grammies from this category for two songs from the same album.
In 1999 he released “Willennium” peaking at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart. “Willennium” produced a new string of hit singles. The first, "Wild Wild West," was originally released earlier in the year as part of the soundtrack to the film “Wild Wild West,” reached #1 in the U.S. The follow-up single was the hit "Will 2K," and reached #25 on the U.S. chart, “Willennium” sold 2 million in the U.S. and was certified 2xPlatinum by the RIAA.
In 2002 he released “Born to Reign” which reached #13 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album would be certified as gold and includes the semi-successful tracks "Willow Is a Player" and "Black Suits Comin'" which was also the lead single from the original motion picture soundtrack of “Men in Black II.”
His album “Lost and Found” followed in 2005 and peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album featured the hit single "Switch" and has been certified gold by the RIAA.