Note: This is a full version of the article found in our October print edition
With summer ending, Jaden Smith tied-dyed all his latest projects as he encouraged Black listeners to “own a rainbow”. From releasing a 1960’s inspired mixtape and apparel, launching a sustainable sneakers collection and an informative Snapchat series on complex issues, quarantine was anything but unproductive for the young artist. Every action was carefully calculated to inspire the youth to spread love and organise a revolution with CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3 set as their soundtrack.
The final Cool Tape predates Smith’s albums that followed a storyline of losing a lover and grieving their absence. Simultaneously, he musically travels back in time to use a surprisingly new sound for him. The Beatles-influenced tunes premiered with ‘Cabin Fever’ to portray the loneliness of solitude during a pandemic. Matching the song’s psychedelic features, Smith’s following single ‘Rainbow Bap’ paints adventures around the globe. Although the first 4 minutes feature rap, the outro switches breathtakingly to make space for vulnerability. The line, “my pillow seen me cry all night” is delivered delicately with strings that tug at the heart. With the implementation of Smith’s soft aesthetics into his latest visualizers and MSFTSrep apparel, he breaks down centuries-old gender and racial stereotypes to empower the Black youth. Thus, there’s freedom to escape distorted representations portraying Black men as threatening, uneducated and uncivilized. The remaining 15 tracks were also crafted to emphasize the importance of reclaiming power and identity.
With the implementation of Smith’s soft aesthetics into his latest visualizers and MSFTSrep apparel, he breaks down major centuries-old gender and racial stereotypes to empower the Black youth’s freedom of self-expression.
Opening the new era with ‘Circa 2015’, anticipation is built for a story ready to be told in its entirety. Listeners are transferred to the CTV3 universe by harps and strings that are dreamlike. Featuring Justin Bieber on the next song, ‘Falling For You’ resembles Frankie Valli’s iconic ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ with desperation for reciprocated feelings. You could imagine Heath Ledger singing it romantically on the field of ‘10 Things I Hate About You’, if only CTV3 came out decades ago. Classic-pop vibes continue with ‘LUCY!’ and ‘Everything’ referencing The Beatles’ 1967 ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ as Smith falls deeper into love. However, this changes with the haunting feel ‘In The Hills’ possesses, depicting an incoming downfall and a long torturous road through expressing “trippy summer never ends”. Surely enough, transitioning smoothly to ‘Bad Connection’ and ‘Muted Sunrise’ reveals the close end to summer and inevitable expiration of a relationship Smith has tried hard to save.
In an Apple Music interview, the actor-turned-rapper singer-songwriter states he aims to “light the fire and fan the flame of inspiration within the youth to create rebellion of something new but a movement fueled by love”. This is apparent in ‘Young In Love’ calling to continue fighting for freedom, supporting science and advocating against American school systems that ultimately prepare Black children for prisons. Smith didn’t simply preach these messages, but has also acted upon his desires to see a change. At an early age, the activist founded an eco-friendly water company named Just Water, to make water easily accessible to underfunded communities. Furthermore, he introduced pop-up food trucks to serve free meals to the homeless. Consequently, Smith is an example of Black youth being able to create social change.
A switch to the CTV3 world’s atmosphere allows a ballad to unfold and reveal it being possibly the greatest track off the album. ‘Photograph’ represents Smith’s lyricism as he delivers heart-wrenching lines such as, “if I can’t love you, I guess I’ll just drown”. With actress and singer Odessa Adlon’s angelic vocals, guards are down to motivate an open and direct vibe just like the ‘Rainbow Bap’s outro. At this point, audiences receive the hint that the relationship has ended. A confirmation is then announced by the next track, ‘Drops of Sun’, as Smith reminisces the good times.
Moods are then raised with three following tracks, beginning with the cool inaudible intro of ‘Sunburnt’. Smith raps once more about oppressive prison systems and deeply flawed educational systems that intentionally leave out Black history. Communication in the modern era is also tackled in ‘Deep End’ as he yearns to be loved by his lover like a cell phone. Including previously mentioned accomplishments by Smith, he still believes there’s more to strive for as he sings, “if you want to fly, there’s a lake on the moon” — redefining the familiar idiom, “the sky’s the limit”. However, this lasts until he comes back down to earth to pay homage to previous Cool Tapes on track 15 with singer and rapper, Raury.
Before the mixtape wraps up, the last minute addition of the anthem ‘Boys and Girls’ shows he’s been moved by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. It holds a powerful note to march on fighting against racism. Additionally, the 1960’s instruments from horns, drums, violins and strings create a hopeful and happy ending to reassure that all will be okay.
Overall, Smith proves through CTV3 that he’s an innovator. He’s willing to do all it takes to stimulate the youth to push for a better world for all of mankind. Smith’s dedicated to using his platform to support and form organisations to battle climate change, homelessness, racism and other significant matters.
CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3 is available to stream on all platforms.