Jaden Smith’s third mixtape, “The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story,” was released on Nov. 16.
Last year, Smith released his first studio album, SYRE, that had hits like “Icon” and “Batman.”
Just like SYRE, this mixtape is very telling of Smith’s personality: Pretentious.
Despite his directionless and unpolished style, which especially shows itself in his constant mimicking of other styles, his braggadocious attitude tries to make you believe he knows what he is doing.
It is clear he is trying to be just like every other rap artist and doesn’t make a big effort to make his musical inspirations his own.
The song “Plastic” in particular sounds like a wannabe Travis Scott song, in Smith’s delivery as well as in the very Travis Scott production with eerie piano chords over a dark-sounding trap beat, something that is trademark to Scott.
This blatant copying is different from an homage. On “Fallen 2,” Smith does an excellent job at channelling an inspiration without copying them by inserting the hook from Scott’s “The Ends” into one of his verses.
The end of “Distant,” too, sounds exactly like Bon Iver’s song “715 – CR∑∑KS” which uses the same haunting layering of vocals in different pitches.
On “Better Things,” he raps using the exact same cadence as Drake over a very Drake-esque pop-hip-hop hybrid beat. Smith even goes as far to copy Drake’s infamous attempts at dancehall on the song “Yeah Yeah” with his own artificial dancehall beat and a radio-friendly, catchy chorus.
This Drake copying further complicates things because Smith goes from fake deep, poetic jumble to radio-friendly and it seems completely out of character.
He does stay genuine about his background, however, which is the only improvement to Smith’s style.
Rather than rapping about things he would never experience as a privileged kid from Calabasas as he did on SYRE, he raps about his privileged life as the son of a major celebrity on this mixtape.
On the song “Ten Ten,” Smith said, “I went to London, they want me in Paris, but I been there all week / Shooting shots at the squad, paparazzi.”
On the songs where it doesn’t sound like he’s trying to be someone else, the lyrics and production leaves much to be desired, as they all have very basic trap production or are trying to be dreamy and deep.
On the song “Ten Ten,” he uses a basic trap beat and exaggerated auto tune effects, and adlibs that artists like Migos use making it a very uninteresting and basic song.
The song “Play This On A Mountain On Sunset” is a perfect example of him trying to be deep, which is comprised of the same three uninteresting piano chords over and over again making the listener wish for a beat drop.
His lyrics are also very basic and fake-deep to the point where it makes the listener wonder if he’s even serious or if this is all just supposed to an ironic project.
Smith’s cringey lyricism comes out especially on a line in the song “Rollin Around.”
“When I’m fly in my head, I get butterflies / She said ‘Real eyes, realize all your little lies’,” he said.
Smith is hardworking and has the potential to become a truly great artist, but this mixtape makes it clear that he needs to develop himself and his style for people to take him seriously.
Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.