There's apparently still a little Muhammad Ali in Will Smith, who accepted his Best Actor MTV Movie Award last week in the voice of the boxing legend and later talked about his new record with equal confidence as "The Greatest."
"I don't want to gas it up, but it's definitely the best album that I've ever done," Smith said backstage at the ceremony (see " 'Lord Of The Rings,' Nicole Kidman On Top At MTV Movie Awards"). "I think people are going to be really surprised, the direction that I decided to take."
Like the first single, "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)," the rest of Born to Reign finds the former Fresh Prince rapping over guitars rather than simply catchy beats.
"I was keeping it old-school on all of my previous albums," Smith explained. "Hip-hop records have always historically been sample-driven. With this album I just went away from all of the samples. It's live instrumentation, but we processed the instruments to give you that sample sound. It's a strange sound and it's incredible."
Born to Reign, Smith's follow-up to 1999's Willennium, is due June 25, eight days before the "Ali" star's next film, "Men in Black 2," hits theaters.
The video for "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)," a tie-in to the highly anticipated movie, was recently shot by Francis Lawrence (Aerosmith, P.O.D.) (see "Will Smith Stages Biggest Intergalactic Space Concert Of All Time").
"It's the first intergalactic concert. It takes place in a space station in deep outer space," Smith said, diving back into "Ali" mode. "The video's insane, if I can say that humbly. The video is incredible. That's where I think I really hit a home run, with the video."