Jaden Smith - The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story

Jaden Smith
The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story

Jaden Smith is truly an interesting case study in artistic freedom. The high profile status of His Mother (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Father (Will Smith) have afforded him a lifestyle that allows for wild experimentation. Read his twitter, it sounds like a cross between an a flat earther conspiracy theory Facebook group and a philosophy class at UCLA. His music is similar, drenched in California sunsets while skittering trap drums bounce in the background. He bridges that gap between Hip Hop and R&B well, crafting an album that is for Millenials and Gen Z alike. The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story is really an example in the shift in hip hop that is happening today. Before Hip Hop was very limited in scope and style. The idea that Hip Hop is solely for cities on the coasts has vanished and the genre is totally worldwide. For better or worse this shift has meant some pretty wild experimentation and an infusion of an artistic lean that wasn't quite there before. You would hear some experimental rappers here and there, but they were outliers where now they are creating the pop music of today. Jaden Smith is not on the forefront of this change, but he certainly is participating in it. We are currently at a place where Jaden can talking about being in the streets "tappin" on songs like "Plastic" when we know for a fucking fact the kid has never sold drugs. This sort of thing asks you to participate in some suspension of disbelief that is rather hard to do.

One thing you notice right away is that Jaden has no time for song structure. Songs range from under two minutes to over six on these 11 tracks. His meandering is painful at times like on "Distant" where his autotuned singing feels never ending. I do like when He says "She a Beatles fan/ Imma let it be" on "Better Things" meaning that hopefully the younger generations are finally moving on from the fab 5, and it's about time. The love songs like "Yeah Yeah" are the ones that feel the most hollow on this record. It feels like He is trying way to hard to be Frank Ocean when He clearly is not. There is also this really strange thing where He will curse in the unedited version of the album, but also include beeps for some stuff. Jaden is trying so hard to be artistic here and in some sense it kind of works, but in others it feels like just too much. He has never been one to shy away from his feelings and thus let them drive his creative works, but on this album so much time is spent doing absolutely nothing. "SYRE in Abbey Road" is this hazy mess. He has so much freedom to experiment that it completely looses any sense of urgency. None of this feels like it means anything more than just another Jaden Smith album. I do think Jaden has talent and that deep down there is a real talent there, I just don't think He has harnessed it just yet.

6.1 out of 10


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