“Because your mind has a duality to it. So when one thought goes into your mind, it’s not just one thought, it has to bounce off both hemispheres of the brain. When you’re thinking about something happy, you’re thinking about something sad. When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple. It’s a tool for understanding mathematics and things with two separate realities.” – Jaden Smith, T Magazine
The fact that a 16-year-old kid actually said the above may feel like a real blow to your intellect, but Jaden Smith’s complexities flying over your head is quite alright, promise. Along with the fact that a lack of understanding can be quite entertaining (see: Young Thug), it turns out Will and Jada Smith’s son has a way of communicating that you may actually be able to keep up with. On his latest music offering, CTV2 (Cool Tape Vol. 2), Jaden is just that: a 16-year old kid. But still sicker than your average, of course.
Take a moment to count how many teenagers you actually understand. Good, now that you’ve gotten that very quick process out of the way, we can discuss Jaden Smith from a clear point of view. On his 8-track opus, the rapper/actor/whatever-the-hell-else-he-wants-to-be, employs motifs like uber-confidence, (awkward) sexuality and unrequited (puppy) love – aka the usual mindsets of a teenage boy. Albeit from a space of elevated consciousness and random painted pictures through spoken word, the essence of Jaden’s new album is the emotional quest of self that plagues all humans his age.
Offering fun, braggadocious lyrics and instrumentation on tracks like “Fire” and “Young & Reckless,” Jaden takes you back to your high school days when you just knew that your clique was the shit. Though mixed with levels of stunting that you’ll probably never see (mentions of Teslas and trips to Paris), he is just like every other 16-year-old who swears they invented the word “cool.” Taking his swag levels all the way up, he even pats himself on the back on “Electric,” for meeting a girl on Monday and bagging her on Twitter by Tuesday. No SAT words or physics here, just plain ol’ teenager shit.
And oh, the girls. It might be safe to say that Jaden is no virgin (“Girl, you know I ain’t celibate,” “Girl let’s get busy,” “I feel you tryna pull me deep inside”). The few times that he refers to girls as “sexy” feel like you’ve walked in on your little brother feeling up his girlfriend, only instead of running out of the room, you hang out and mistakenly thrown salt in his game. Because of his artful presentation, Jaden convinces you not to escape the awkwardness. He even makes you want to strike up that conversation with him.
On “Let It Breathe,” which features a beautiful assist from his equally-enigmatic little sister Willow, Jaden describes a near-obsession with an older woman. A victim of love at first sight, he explains why he can’t let her go: “Love is just so nonexistent in my existence, so that’s why I was so persistent in that first quick instant.” Yet, the passion is not returned because she, unfortunately, “Never texts me, she never texts me, forgot to text me.” And as he makes his final attempt to win her heart, he is slapped with a restraining order. Creepy, sure, but remember that person you were infatuated with at 16? Yeah. Only luck stood between you and the same fate.
If another set of quotes send you on a search to decipher young Jaden Smith, let his bars be your guide. Creative, skillful and at times frustrating metaphoric, his music is as eclectic as his logic, but far more telling. CTV2 is a good way to bring him back down to his 16-year-old self, although it won’t make you feel any smarter. He is still on another plane than the rest of us. – Iyana Robertson