Jaden Smith has never been an easy
artist human to describe. He's a rapper, sure. But he's also an actor, clothing designer, pyramid builder, radio host, environmentalist, and water bottle company owner. Oh, and he has pretty famous parents, too.
It's always been difficult to pin Jaden Smith down and describe him with a single label—a fact that he seems to relish in. He brings that same mentality to his genre-defying, three-years-in-the-making debut studio album, SYRE.
On the constantly evolving four-part intro track, "B-L-U-E," Smith sets the tone for the whole project. Right off the bat, he weaves together sounds and influences from pop, electronic, rock, spoken work, and hard-hitting hip-hop—presented with a dramatic, cinematic flair. Speaking with Zane Lowe earlier this week, Smith explained, "If you listen to BLUE, you'll get the album. If somebody's really curious, like, 'Oh, Jaden's releasing an album, what is it going to be like?' Just put on the first song on the album and let it play."
Over the course of the seventeen song project, Smith never lingers in one place for long. Within a single song like "The Passion," he'll flip from aggressive bars and high-energy hip-hop production to emotional James Blake-esque ballads. Somehow, he manages to pull all of these sounds into a package that makes sense. SYRE lacks sonic cohesion, but it's held together by the fact that it all sounds like Jaden. He doesn't force himself into corners he doesn't belong in. And the scattered style suits him: a pure rap album or a pure rock album wouldn't have made sense for an artist like Smith. A collage-like sound has always been where he's the most effective (it doesn't feel like an accident that the subtitle for the project is A Beautiful Confusion).
This is a natural progression from his first two mixtapes, but on SYRE, Smith's talents are finally catching up with his ambition. His technical skill has developed to the point where he can pull off bangers like "George Jeff," conceptual, poetic tracks like "SYRE," and the ambitious four-part opener "B-L-U-E" in the same project.
Smith has hinted that the project will be accompanied by some sort of film, which will give him a chance to pull the diverse sounds into a more cohesive package (and take advantage of his acting background). Until then, you can hear SYRE on Apple Music here or listen via Spotify below.
Continue to see New Yorkers react to Jaden's music and tweets.
Here are some of Jaden's best musical moments up to the release or SYRE: