Can Willow and Jaden Smith's music ever live up to their OTT musings?
The Smith children made waves with their comments about the existence of time but, says Gillian Orr, their albums are unlikely to last long
Plenty of people have spent the past few days discussing just what Jaden and Willow Smith were on about in a recent interview they gave to The New York Times Magazine. To say that the precocious teen offspring of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith gave good quotes would be an understatement.
"I mean, time, for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please," mused 14-year-old Willow. "That's how I know it doesn't exist."
"Your mind has a duality to it," pointed out Karate Kid redux star Jaden. "When you're thinking about something happy, you're thinking about something sad. When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple."
Aside from flat-out denials of the existence of time and pondering the antithesis of fruit, the siblings also discussed prana (a Hindu word for the life force energy of the universe), their suspicion of formal education ("school is not authentic because it ends"), and their reading lists (quantum physics, Drunvalo Melchizedek's The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life, and, duh, self-written novels).
Opinion was split. Some believed the pair were trolling the newspaper of record, while others thought the Smiths had lost grip on reality. Further parties felt that they were simply espousing the kind of over-the-top philosophising plenty of teenagers are guilty of.
But, more importantly, do they practice what they preach? Do their theories about higher consciousness and breathing through stomachs (yes, really) make it into the two new albums they were promoting? At a time when most popstars are singing about booty and bass, tracks featuring such hifalutin ideas could be revolutionary stuff.
Let's start with Jaden's Cool Tape Vol 2. Oh, dear. So the title doesn't promise anything too visionary but what about the songs?
"If da party on fire, then I probably lit the match," raps the teen in the first line of the opening track, Fresh. "Miss fiss ma bruhhh and ya jokers in a mess" (I think). But, hey, what he lacks in enlightening observations he sure makes up for in bravado.
Let's not judge him by one track alone, though. In Keep Ya Love, Jaden seems to be addressing one of the principal theories set out in The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life about all of human life being connected ("We're calm and connected … We're the collective"), and in Zoned, the existence of other realms ("They don't listen, they too infatuated with kissing/They don't see the 144 dimensions that they're missing").
However, there is worrying stuff here, too. When The New York Times asked about recurring themes in his work, Jaden replied that he's interested in "The PCH" (Pacific Coast Highway) and "the melancholiness of the ocean". Aw, sweet.
Oh look, there's a song, PCH, in which he cruises down the highway with, wait, "My girl, she's snoozing/She was all night boozing". Hold up, isn't Jaden only 16? How old is this girl? And, more importantly, didn't Jaden just tell the Times that he didn't believe in "driver's ed (education)" ("Because if everybody I know has been in an accident, I can't see how driver's ed is really helping them out"). Who's driving this car? Fingers crossed it's Will.
Elsewhere there are tales of hopping into Bentleys and rubbing thighs gently and, really, not much to suggest this person has, as promised, much to enlighten us with. It's just someone in need of a curfew. But give him a break; he is allegedly dating one of the Kardashian clan.
And what of Willow, she who likes to whip her hair back and forth? I have to say, I don't know what she's on about half the time in her EP, 3, but I quite like it. She's been listening to Erykah Badu and it shows. Just put on Flowers. We're back to dealing with Melchizedek's text here, and the idea that the fall of Atlantis changed our reality.
She sings: "I wanna be an Atlantian … We'll see what they've been hiding." Even her comparing of Jaden to Poseidon can't take away from it being a pretty good tune. Sure, it's cringey in places, but isn't having a 14-year-old who is signed to Roc Nation, with nearly four million Twitter followers, telling her fans that the "government is trying to sell them not help them" kind of brilliant? She has it in her to be the next, great bonkers popstar.
Jaden, however, might want to stick to co-starring in Razzie award-winning flops with his old man.