Syre is a debut that reeks of potential but unfortunately buckles under the weight of its own ambition.
Jaden Smith, most well known as son and co-star of actor Will Smith, acclaimed twitter savant and all around prophet of madness has launched his long-anticipated music career with his debut full-length album Syre.
The four part ‘B’, ‘L’, ‘U’ and ‘E’ respectively, is a bold opener with sister Willow Smith almost lullabying the listener before breaking down into a trap beat as a backdrop for Jaden to throw hyper aggressive bars against. The movements flow into each other seamlessly, with Smith diverting on rap tangents before repeatedly pulling the listener back to imagery of the ocean and beachside.
“I just put you on a wave // Just put you on a wave // Follow me into the ocean// You will never be the same”
There are a couple of questionable bars that nearly break the illusion Smith works so hard to accomplish but ultimately proves that he can dip his toe into experimental waters and pulls it off largely without fault. The album then continues into ‘Breakfast’, while decent in its own right, seemingly ditches anything outside the realm of regular song structure and unfortunately squanders an A$AP Rocky feature. Album centrepiece ‘Lost Boy’ is a slow-burning acoustic number and a welcome reprieve at this point on the record, but likely much too long for its own good at nine-minutes long.
Ultimately, there are a lot of nice ideas at work here and Jaden can certainly spit, but Syre isn’t as smooth of a listen as it could be. The four-part opener leads us to believe that he has the means to string together a cohesive project only to quickly abandon that mindset in favour of crafting collage after collage of eclectic artistry and influence worship.
While cuts like ‘Icon’ and ‘Fallen’ showcase him at his most assertive and vulnerable, aiding Smith’s credibility, comparatively ‘Watch Me’ sounds like the impending soundtrack to the upcoming Nissan Hilux commercial. Syre wears its influences on its sleeves, most noticeably towards Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo, which ruefully mirrors in its shortcomings too. Lacking a sense of identity or cohesion throughout results in the ambitious behemoth of an album being too exhausting of a listen to properly enjoy.
But! With Jaded Smith’s potential for being Earth’s “Most Woke Person™” is it possible that he’s prescient to all of this? He knows how the industry works after all. Is he doing this because this is his desired result, or is this an honest insight into the inner workings of Jaden Smith himself? To his credit, the album has a very grand aesthetic, emanating a feeling of longing and discontent amidst the idea of pink sunsets, endless possibilities, and seeming perfection.
It’s perhaps a little too pretentious and overconfident for its own good (“So, you think you can save rap music?”), and Smith himself could certainly strive to be a little more consistent, but suffice to say he demonstrates some moments of brilliance on his debut. If Syre proves to be remembered as anything, it’s a monument to the absurd. Donald Trump is president, many idolized celebrities are being outed as sexual deviants and Jaden Smith releases a surprisingly solid hip-hop project. I’m the queen of England!
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