Review | Jaden - ERYS
Jaden Smith’s career has been underwhelming from a critics point of view, however, over the years he has built a loyal and dedicated fanbase. But will they stick around after this album?
As Will Smith’s son and an accomplished actor in his own right, Jaden Smith entered the rap game with more influence than the majority of his peers. Numerous lead roles in large productions such as The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), The Karate Kid (2010) and After Earth (2013) were soon left to a distant memory as Jaden began to focus on music. His first mixtape The Cool Café (2012) and its sequel Cool Tapes Vol. 2 (2014) garnered measurable attention and announced that Jaden was serious in his intentions to become a professional and world renowned rapper. If anything, the duo of Cool Tapes inspired Jaden to work harder on his music career, and after the release of Cool Tapes Vol. 2, Jaden didn’t take any acting roles until Netflix’s 2017 original The Get Down. That time away from acting allowed Jaden to focus on his debut studio album Syre (2016). A polarising piece of work, Syre was either received as a sonic playground or a confusing and inconsistent mess. After a guitar-centric rework of Syre called Syre: The Electric Album was released in 2017, the third installment of the Cool Tape mixtapes was released in 2018 under the title The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tapes Story. Truly a dull piece of work, The Sunset Tapes eventually revealed itself to be a musical representation of an impaired brother of Brockhampton’s Saturation trilogy. The question for Erys is whether it would be a peak or trough of Jaden’s rollercoaster career.
The answer is a resounding trough. Not as low as Sunset Tapes, but for a studio album it is heavily underwhelming. Its an hour and twenty minutes of meandering and wayward rap that delivers promise one song and then quickly self-destructs in the next. In my opinion, Syre had the same trait of inconsistency. However it had some really strong tracks that carried the bad, such as “Icon”, “George Jeff” and “The Passion”. On Erys however, the good is overwhelmingly overpowered by the bad and even then, the good moments on this album are powered by either production or features and not Jaden himself. Although not even Tyler, The Creator could save “NOIZE”. Lido offers some masterful production at the opening of the album throughout the “P”,”I”,”N” and “K” run of songs that, you guessed it, spell pink. Most notably, “K” serves as a pleasant ballad where beautiful guitar lines pair well with a choral melody from Jaden that conveys some emotion. The same can’t be said for the rest of the album.
Jaden seems obsessed with the usage of his monotone, rambling cadence and it often squanders the efforts of the producers and featured artists. For example, on “Again”, the verses delivered by Jaden before the beat switch are completely flat and instead of aiming to deliver a laid-back and spaced-out vibe, he just sounds bored and uninterested. The beat is pretty good too, not a standout of the album but it’s by no means bad. Then there’s “Fire Dept”. A tragic abomination of post-hardcore and noise rap, the instrumental is left to collapse in on itself after it becomes evident Jaden’s distorted delivery cannot hold its own. Then, a musical trait far too often repeated on the album completely diffuses any energy offered by the song: a beat switch that reverses the tempo of the song from rapid and abrupt to slow and sultry. Examples of these beat switches can be seen on “NOIZE”, “N”, “Again”, “Pain” and “i-drip-or-is”.
There is good in this album, but one just has to dig extensively to find it. Kid Cudi continues his string of great features in 2019 on “On My Own” whilst A$AP Rocky pounces on the beats like I wish Jaden would on “Chateau” and “Ghost Remix”. There’s promise still for Jaden after Erys, his team of producers and features are talented and can offer a lot, but if he doesn’t attend to his delivery and bars, of which there were no notable flows or language, negative reviews will continue to plague Jaden throughout his career.
Best Song - On My Own (Feat. Kid Cudi)
Worst Song - Fire Dept