A lot can be said about Jaden Smith — but, in a much more real sense, not much can be said about him either.
He’s the son of one of the most famous celebrities to ever grace this planet, he wore a white Batman costume to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding, his sister had that one song a while back called “I Whip My Hair” and he somehow caused a stir when he cut off his dread-locks and carried them around. Seemingly following in the steps of his father and sister, Jaden decided to dip his toes into the world of music. On Nov. 16, 2017 Jaden Smith released his first attempt at an album, “SYRE.”
“SYRE” proved to be a 70-minute vacation from reality where I found myself in either blissful music heaven or completely questioning the state of hip-hop as well as the metal stability of the young Smith. “SYRE” was able to produce a handful of good songs and prove that, even with all the money in the world, you still can make a bad album.
The first 14 minutes of “SYRE” turned out to be promising and undoubtedly memorable. The first four tracks are individually titled “B,” “L,” “U” and “E” — despite being separate tracks, the four play into and bleed out onto each other. The first voice opening the album is actually Willow Smith, where she pours out a sweet dream-like lullaby. This being one of the sweetest moments of the album, I was startled when Willow’s voice alters to a deep monstrous bellow aided by a haunting bass.
After Willow’s voice dips out, Jaden takes over with a truly surprising and actually quite impressive flow that leads directly into the next track, “L.” “L” has a similar production style, with at least three beat switch ups, making for an interestingly complex song with a super catchy hook: “I could put you on a wave/I just put you on a wave.”
On the track, “U,” Jaden takes a step away from trap production and gives a musical shout out to rock and roll when, toward the end of the track, a chaotic guitar and drum duo take over. This carries over to the last of the Blue tracks, “E.” Here, Jaden slows the beat down and continues to spew melodic bars until he starts to reiterate Willow’s lines from “B,” bringing the Blue songs full circle.
Sadly, after the Blue tracks, the album’s mood takes a 180 and turns from creative and complex to basic and tedious. It takes two tracks after “E” for Jaden to find his groove and personality again, which happens on the track “Falcon,” featuring Raury. “Falcon” shows off a side of Jaden rarely seen in his music — Jaden sounds like he is actually enjoying himself, compared to his usual emotionless and heartless delivery.
This style of rapping is most evident on his first single for “SYRE,” “Batman.” “Batman” is probably one of the weakest rap songs of 2017. During its 3:05 runtime, Jaden fits the word Batman into this shaky song a total of 39 times, (yes, I counted). The track is seemingly directionless and meaningless, and the production does the song no favors either. Along with the song came a cringe-worthy music video featuring yet again another appearance of the white Batman costume.
Following the unforgivable track, “Batman,” Jaden gives listeners an audibly pleasing yet lyrically flawed track “Icon.” “Icon” has the makings of a possible radio hit with stylish production and promptly timed voice alterations, which on face value offer a catchy and danceable three minutes. However, lightly scrape at the song’s content, and its previous effects wear thin. In a recent interview with Genius, Jaden was questioned about the lyric, “icon tatted on my torso,” and asked if this was actually true — it wasn’t.
A lyric that is far more indicative of Smith’s mindset is “I’m an icon living.” This is an idea that is spread far and wide throughout the entire album — he calls himself Martin Luther King, compares himself to Kendrick Lamar, says he has more swagger than Mick Jagger and even name drops Elvis. All this takes place on his first album with absolutely nothing to back up his claims, and the album doesn’t make a convincing argument either. Jaden’s only claim to fame is his family name, and with “SYRE,” Jaden stretches the limits of how far even that can take him.
Simply put, the album is far too long and could have easily been saved with a small intervention. The tracks “B,” “L,” “U,” “E,” “Falcon” and “Ninety” could have made a spectacular EP and given listeners something to be desired from Jaden. Similar to Icarus, Jaden learned to fly, but on his first attempt flew too high and with “SYRE,” crashed down with nothing but widespread criticism to show for his efforts.
Colton Newman is the photo editor and a music writer for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Coltonperson.