Jaden Smith - SYRE Album Review
Over the past couple of years, Jaden Smith has built quite the reputation for himself. It hasn’t been as an actor or a musician, but rather as a Twitter personality that tweeted “deep” thoughts that were comical to the entire Twitter community. While doing that, Smith was also rather quietly releasing music. His mixtape series The Cool Cafe were fairly decent mixtapes, with the latter Cool Tapes Vol. 2 really showing Smith’s potential as an artist. Now in 2017 and at the age of 19, Jaden Smith has released his debut album SYRE and although there is a lot to love, there is one major flaw.
The best part of this album is the production. This is one of the tightest productions in hip hop this year and it is clear there was a lot of money spent on instrumentals. There are instrumentals with hard hitting bass, but also ones that are highly distorted with the use of many synthesizers. Put on the first four songs, which spell out the word blue, and the production level is obvious. Listeners are transported to Smith’s world and will be absolutely mesmerized by the production level alone.
Other major bright spots on this album are the flows. For only being 19, Jaden Smith has one of the best repertoire of flows in all of hip hop. When he is on that triplet flow that Migos has popularized, he sounds right at home. Smith can also slow it down and hit every single word on beat if he chooses to and can accomplish any flow in between. His rapping ability is really something that cannot be understated. When he is rapping, it is clear that Smith has all of the potential in the world to one day put out a classic album.
The fatal flaw with this album though are the lyrics. Anyone looking to this rap album for some sort of lyrical revelation will be thoroughly disappointed. Jaden Smith compares himself to figures like Martin Luther King Jr., somehow trying to draw the comparison to what he is saying to the thoughts of the iconic civil rights leader. Smith compares himself to Kendrick Lamar, despite Lamar having immensely better lyrical content and having every accolade imaginable in music over Smith. He even tries to rap about love and what it could mean, but he comes to shallow conclusions and never says anything very profound about life in general. He brought his “deep” Twitter thoughts and tried to make them work on an album. Spoiler alert: rapping about 9/11 conspiracy theories does not work on an album, or Twitter for that matter, especially ones that have been debunked numerous times.
When it comes to lyrics though, this is excusable in 2017 on some level. Are the lyrics painfully bad at times? Yes. But in 2017, when Lil Pump and Playboi Carti have had mass commercial success and decent critical success with little to no lyrical meaningfulness and excessive repetitiveness, Jaden Smith looks like a wordsmith. On top of that, Smith is 19 and it can be expected that this is something he improves on as his career progresses.
Even with the lyrical problems, there are still songs that are worth coming back to this album for. The first four tracks are the highlight, but “Icon” has an amazing instrumental and is paired with Smith sounding at his best. It also helps that “Icon” has incredible visuals.
Jaden Smith seems to be taking music seriously having started his own record label, something he raps about constantly on SYRE. If he can ditch what made him such a Twitter phenomenon or maybe pick up a ghost writer, Smith could have a classic rap album on his hands. For now though, the tight flows and production will have to suffice.
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism