By: Maxwell Millington
Jaden Christopher “Syre” Smith (the son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) approached his debut album, SYRE, with care and consideration for today’s social climate. As Smith described it, his latest project is a coming of age story about “Syre,” his alter ego.
Let’s talk about the positives first:
SYRE is not your typical hip-hop album. The project, which is 17 songs and 70 minutes long, took Smith three years to produce. It shows, particularly in the high quality production.
Smith clearly separates himself from other young rappers lyrically by staying away from topics like drugs, money, and general misogyny. It’s refreshing and extremely creative.
Instead, Smith talks about his musical influences, politics, policing, and Teslas.
The album opens with “BLUE”and although the entirety of the song is 15 minutes long, it’s separated into four parts B, L, U and E. Smith cleverly opens the album by retelling the Biblical story of creation, with the help of his sister Willow Smith, which is symbolic to many as the beginning of man’s existence.
My favorite song on the album is “Batman.” Although the similarities to Future & Drake’s hit “Jumpman” are obvious, this track gets me hype. The beat is aggressive and the song is lyrically flawless. It proved that despite Smith’s “weird” brand, he’s capable of making a viable mainstream rap record.
Smith also has good collaborations on this project, including his sister Willow, who serenades us on “B,” A$AP Rocky, Raury, Lido, and Tyler the Creator. Outside of those who directly contributed to the album, it’s been well documented that Smith’s influences are Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Elon Musk. These influences matter as “SYRE” is definitely as against the grain as those three men are, maybe even more.
Despite those positives:
I give this album 3 out of 5 snaps because it’s almost as if Smith did too much to be different and creative. If you’ve been keeping up with his reputation, especially on Twitter, you probably wouldn’t be surprised that his album is as scatterbrained as his tweets are.
Smith fails to keep me invested and interested in a few of the songs because of the length or unnecessary beat changes. I was also heavily let down in “Breakfast” in which A$AP Rocky is listed as a feature, but doesn’t actually rap. It sounds like he’s in a room having a conversation with Smith, however his voice is altered. We never get the A$AP Rocky we expect to get on the track.
In regards to his lyrics, Smith reveals a bit of Kanye-like arrogance when he calls himself Martin Luther King in “L”. If that wasn’t outrageous enough, he says “I should be in the Senate” in the same song. It’s hard to tell if Smith is serious about these claims but it is a bit off-putting that he’s trying to make the audience believe he’s some political savior considering his age and lack of experience in music, let alone politics.
Most artists come up with ideas and songs years before it shows up on an album, so I don’t have a problem with Smith saying he’s been working on this project for three years. However, we all know that when we spend a long time on something we are prone to overthinking.
I think that was Smith’s achilles heel on “SYRE.” However, despite the lyrical missteps, this project is definitely an album you should listen to and one that Smith should be proud of.
Have you listened to the album? Comment below and share what you think about it.
Maxwell Millington graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a B.A. in Journalism & Digital Media. He previously worked as a social media strategist and digital media consultant for Queens University of Charlotte, Blavity, uBack, and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.