Jaden Smith may be one of the most overlooked and underrated minds of this new generation of artists. Smith, and other young, fearless leaders, hold a tremendous amount of power in directing the future of not only music and art, but the way that young listeners think. Smith’s debut album, SYRE, is the perfect introduction for new audiences, detaching the “cryptic Tweeter” and Karate Kid persona from a fresh mind that people ought to start paying attention to.
The album’s title comes from its artist’s full name, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. In an interview with Complex Magazine, Smith explains his reasoning in selecting the album’s title and what it means for his future.
“I realized that Syre was the answer, what I had to move forward with. People love to just talk about me by name and say, “Oh, Jaden Smith this, Jaden Smith that.” It’s time for a new awakening and a new consciousness. Anybody who thinks they know me, this album is something completely different from what they think. So I’m excited.”
In addition to the album itself, that took Smith approximately three years to make, fans can expect a visual component in 2018. Smith reveals, “It’s an actual film that plays out that has characters. There’s no rapping, really, in the whole movie. It’s just about the story of Syre.” He stresses, however that the projects are still separate, unlike visual albums like Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Track 1: “B”
- Talk about a strong introduction. WOW. Not only is this track the album’s opener, but also the first of four consecutive songs spelling out the word “BLUE”. Smith recruits longtime collaborators and friends Pia Mia and Willow Smith, the latter being his younger sister. According to Genius.com, the female duo recorded the vocals three years ago. The combination of the dreamy female vocals with Jaden’s bars over a strong bass melody contributed to a four part mini-saga that may be one of this year’s most outstanding intros.
- FYRE BAR: Is the NyQuil reference alluding to the endless blue ocean they speak about? Hmm. I wonder.
Track 2: “L”
- The second installment of the introduction picks up right where “B” left off, surfing on a wave that makes me feel “as pretty as the ocean”. Smith continues with biblical and historical references as he gives insight into his perspective of modern day culture and its priorities. The monotone intro and outro perfectly frame the song, preparing listeners for a seamless transition into the two tracks that follow.
- FYRE BAR: Smith expands on the ways in which the public views him in a slick reference to MSFTSrepublic’s “Mystery School”. Very smart.
Track 3: “U”
- I LOVE TÉO. That man is so incredibly talented. If you know me, you know that his song “Selfless-ish” has been my anthem since it dropped in 2015. He is a fellow member of Jaden’s collective, MSFTS. The second part of the track features a chaotic rock cadence, where Smith pays homage to rock legends Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, and Jimi Hendrix.
- FYRE BAR: “Man I’m artichokin’, I can’t breathe that’s the art of chokin'”, “Girl, I’m fallin’ to the ground and you’ll never get me up, I’m just a baby with a stack of needles and a sippy cup”. This man got jokes and rhymes out here.
Track 4: “E”
- The biblical references don’t stop, as another friend of Smith’s, Harry Hudson, references Eve as Smith’s dangerous love interest.
- FYRE BAR: That entire outro. The whole thing. The conversing whispers gave me chills. It was to perfect way to conclude the project’s intro, leaving listeners craving the next flawless transition to come.
Track 5: “Breakfast” (feat. A$AP Rocky)
- A$AP teases fans with another minimal features, following a trend that has been fairly present throughout the past year. Although Flacko doesn’t give us a full verse, the track’s transition and presence would not be the same without him. This is my favorite beat on the project so far, the gritty, booming bass reminding me of Tyler, The Creator’s “nasty New York beat” in “Yonkers”.
- FYRE BAR: “When I talk to Kendrick man, I sit on the ground” Smith references Lamar for the second time. K Dot is clearly a mentor and influencer of Smith’s, which is apparent with Smith’s refined rhymes and lyrics.
Track 6: “Hope”
- In listening to this track, I start to see the album’s overarching storyline. It starts out answering whether or not Smith truly has the power to save rap, a question that was prompted in the outro of the previous track. His hopes for the future are the basis of the track, again referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the belief that he has been called to continue King’s legacy. The verses are intense. Also, those bell tower vibes at the end. Smith is really showing the growth of his technique. I say this with every “new artist”, but people need to start paying attention. ASAP.
- FYRE BAR: “Why do you even get passionate when you be spitting?…They care about YSL, And putting lean up in their fridges, And wearing crosses like they’re Christian, We playing chess and I’m the bishop”. Smith is ensuring that the world knows he is here because he wants to be here, and he deserves to be here. His hopes for equality, wisdom, and a less corrupt world sets him apart from rappers who would rather sip lean and blow money.
- Before listening, I already knew this would go so hard. After all, Smith and Raury were almost made to fit together perfectly. The Q&A trend between songs continues as this track’s downtempo house music flawlessly responds to “Hope”‘s question, “So… Do you party?” Raury’s famous acoustic strumming in the bridge gives the track to intergalactic heights.
- FYRE BAR: “My heart is so hollow, I’m high as Apollo”, “You jokers corny like kettle”, “You say you rock, you a pebble”. I told you this man came with all the jokes.
“Me and Raury are super close and our vision for the future of music is really, really similar.”
Track 8: “Ninety”
- Smith’s love song is enlightening. He discusses his ability to express love through deep conversation, rather than strictly physical actions. Another song with two distinct parts, all eight minutes of the song mark a turn point in the story as the second half of the album begins. The second half of the song is powerful. It discusses a short lived joy, the “sunset”, similar to Tyler, The Creator’s “euphoric forever” in “November”.
- FYRE BAR: “Food from the soul, I know you’re hungry, Gave you my two cents, ain’t got money” While the word play is simple, it is perfectly woven into the mental vs. physical connections that Smith expands on in the latter half of the track.
Track 9: “Lost Boy”
- The long harmonious love songs continue, this one featuring Smith’s current girlfriend, Odessa Adlon, and, again, Téo. This track, more than any other thus far, showcases Smith’s singing ability, breaking up beautifully fierce verses with a tranquil shoutout track. As Genius user @Dynamic_Bandit points out, this song draws many similarities with Kanye West’s “30 Hours” off The Life of Pablo.
- FYRE BAR: In the outro Smith states, “My favorite albums used to have the bonus track like this, you know what I’m saying?”. West spoke a similar truth saying, “My favorite albums used to have like bonus joints like this, that’s why they kick it off like this”.
Track 10: “Batman”
- This was the second song off of SYRE I had heard, listening to it on repeat when it dropped in July 2017. Many people have likened the track’s flow to “Jumpman” by Drake. Subtleties like the jingling chains in the beat
- FYRE BAR: “Huh, you on the wave like a Maverick, you need to make something happen” Others are copying Smith’s style and riding his wave without creating one for themselves. Tsk tsk.
Track 11: “Icon”
- Smith has spend time praising legends like Lamar and Hendrix, now it is his turn to show why he fits in the same category as the world’s greatest. The confidence he has in his abilities seeps from his tone, the lyrics, and his body language in the track’s visual. This is a track that will get people paying attention, I guarantee it.
- FYRE BAR: “Load a yellow rose into a rifle… Put a hundred thousand in a bible… Owe it all to Cudi and to Tycho” The reference to a yellow rose points to another one of Jaden’s mentors Kid Cudi.
Track 12: “Watch Me”
- This track employs the classic rock sounds that Smith has referenced multiple times throughout the project. The post-hook was made to get crowds hype. The visuals and locations in the music video seamlessly match both “Icon” and “Batman”, strengthening the album’s cohesive story.
- FYRE BAR: “Since 2012 I’ve been the coolest, If you do not get it… you foolish”. Smith is tying projects together, referencing his son “The Coolest” from his 2012 mixtape The Cool Cafe: Cool Tape Vol. 1.
Track 13: “Fallen”
- I vividly remember the day this song dropped. The track covers his love for a girl and their distinct perspectives on life. He takes listeners on this journey in the most eloquent and cohesive way, between engaging verses and a hypnotic chorus.
- FYRE BAR: “I mean, ah, I need someone to renounce with, whoa, Ice bucket challenge in the fountain, whoa” According to Genius.com, “Jaden is renouncing this is his own way by stating he would perform the challenge in the fountain, breaking the cycle of his generation.” I also have a special place in my heart for that bell hooks line. It’s really a beauty.
Track 14: “The Passion”
- This beat is one of the most outstanding compilations on the album. Just as I’m feeling it, the entire song switches up out of nowhere. When the beat first stopped I was confused, but once Smith began to serenade me with a piano, I forgave him. I absolutely love this piano melody. It is so simple, but almost weak. Once again, the sounds perfectly sync up with the way Smith presents each and every story.
- FYRE BAR: SYRE fuses again with Batman to create a whole and complex persona for Smith. “‘Cause I’m so sick, Joker, I’m just chillin’ like a villain, yuh”
Track 15: “George Jeff”
- The project’s 15th track comes through with another intricate beat, as Smith now compares himself to the fictional George Jefferson. That. Second. Verse. Jaden is not giving us a break. The amount of clever references packed into that verse is unbelievable; they hit you one after the other. I love the brief bridge that includes Willow, but I’m still trying to figure out the significance. I would say that not everything has a deep meaning, maybe it is just there. But, with the Smith’s, everything has a purpose.
- FYRE BAR: “Expelliarmus, me and Harry Potter in the Benz”. This particular spell is used in the world of Harry Potter to leave opponents powerless. Once more on this album, Smith is reiterating his superiority over other rappers. Plus, any reference to Harry Potter in a rap song is automatically noteworthy.
Track 16: “Rapper”
- The shortest song on the album, “Rapper” didn’t give me too much that I hadn’t already heard. Again, I love the cosmic sounding beat and his verses are strong.
- FYRE BAR: “When it comes to rap, I’m the anomaly, Put a pretty pendant to a prophecy”. References to pendants and prophecy are only a few of the supernatural/scientific topics that Smith discuss, others including elixirs and Chernobyl.
Track 17: “SYRE”
- I love tracks like this one. It was literally made for the world’s most epic nature montage. Spoken words over ambient music gets me every time. After speaking a lot about himself and his goals, Smith now takes a step back, addressing Syre from a third person point of view. It’s a perfect fit for the album’s close.