Review: Jaden Smith: 'The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story'

It has been one calendar year since Jaden Smith’s debut studio album, Syre. Enter The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story (TST) released on Nov. 17th, 2018. The 20-year-old’s third-installment of his Cool Tape series originally dates back to 2012, revealing poignant parts of his creative personality to fans in this latest project.


A quick sifting through the 11-track mixtape reveals how personal of a mixtape A Cool Tape Story is to Jaden. With no features, Jaden’s presence looms over the 36-minute long track list. “Syre in the Abbey Road” and “Fallen Part 2” each pay respect to Smith’s album Syre.


Smith has not clarified whether or not the Sunset Tapes should be considered a full album, an EP, a mixtape, or an ambiguous project of his own doing. In a Tweet, Jaden compared the course of the tapes to the journey in Star Wars, specifically saying, “this is not Cool Tape 3, it’s a Cool Tape story.”


But the extreme variety in song composition and lack of thematic progression make this mixtape into a creative mix of sloppiness.


TST begins with the soothing sounds of “SOHO,” as it progresses to a variety of styles from an authentic freestyle-like rapping experience in “A Calabasas Freestyle,” to a soothing blend of chimes and flutes in “Better Things.”


In a recent Instagram post, Jaden remarked about this project’s influence from all of the females in his life, “from the pretty girl crossing the street that I never got a chance to talk to or get out of my head,” to the “Xs, the ones I’m in communication with and the ones I’m not,” Jaden posted.


Jaden continued, “Thank you to every single Woman in the world for inspiring me—the ones that I know personally and ones that I can only see from a far—I would be nothing without You. I love you,” said Jaden.


The album cover reveals a gazing and hopeless Jaden, who is staring into the distance during a noticeable sunset in the backdrop. Smith’s wearing a white shirt under a vest with an obvious amount of blood seeping through, from a wound that is left to emotional interpretation around his lower abdomen.


In an interview with Beats 1 Radio, Smith said, “I just need the sunset for some reason, and it has this weird connection with relationships and love almost because it’s like the sun sets, and then you’re like, ‘What do I do? Who am I gonna spend time with?”


Even as parts of the young ‘icon’s’ abstract imagination and creative genius leak through on TST, Jaden’s third release of 2018 falls short of reaching the artistic lengths he established in Syre.


The future might be unknown for the 20-year-old trailblazer in rapping, acting and fashion, but his ability to convey his emotions creatively is undeniable. In TST, Smith reveals a little bit more of his mind’s intricacies in this passionately-charged project. Yet, it leaves the listener thirsting for the lyrical and composition complexities put forth in Syre.


Jaden raps, “I think I’m going through a change, sunset’s still feeling afraid…wait ‘til the sky turns pink, soon you’ll see why I’m boundless.”