The young "ICON", Jaden Smith, adds a new installment to his Cool Tape series with his latest effort, CTV3: Cool Tapes Vol. 3, a 17-track follow-up to 2018's A Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story. The beachy collection of songs is almost a complete 180 from the atmosphere that was presented on his breakout album, SYRE, and displays Jaden in a more bright, luminous position. This album proves once again, that he can break status quo.
"Cabin Fever" being the single, is the first taste of what the project would contain. This opening single off of the mixtape is a lovey-dovey quarantine song that gave us something to feel good about as many of us have been distancing indoors in 2020. Ironically, the music video meets the dichotomy as it is far from being set indoors, and instead is an escape trip to the beach.
Soon after, "Rainbow Bap" was the second release from CTV3, and Smith came with the raps this time around. Still, the lush acoustic guitar sends the listener into bliss with a positive vibe in the hook and tone of the melody. All the talk about life in Malibu (his hometown), and chasing love in Bora Bora is hard for someone to not feel the sun in this song. One thing the fans do catch is that Jaden speaks on the sunset and 'flying through a pink sky', which sounds like a sentiment that the created alter ego of Jaden's, Syre, would repeat since the sunset is said to be his obsession.
We've got two measly features from two little-known artists and friends of Jaden's – Atlanta's Raury, who's gradually become part of the Mount Rushmore of artists from Stone Mountain, Georgia, and you may have also heard of this one pop singer from Canada, Justin Bieber. The two long-time friends collaborate on the retro-sounding-snap-along pop track, "Falling For You". It was their first collaboration since Justin's 2012 outro on Believe, "Fairytale".
CVT3 has cemented that Jaden Smith will never be able to be cornered into a genre.
Jaden has always been a rebel. His first few projects and tapes were hip albums that were sonically reminiscent of the likes Kid Cudi, Childish Gambino, or early Mac Miller. Sure enough, earlier in his career, he has exhibited some of his ability to switch lanes into a rock and roll-influenced sound with tracks like "Fire Dept", "Riot", or "U".
On this third addition to the series, Jaden once more dodges the pigeonhole as he swerves into a project with a more prevalent alternative genre-bending pop feel. With his father being a well-known and successful rapper, and being raised around hip-hop, it's understated how both he and his sister WILLOW have discovered their individuality musically and creatively. The spirit of Cool Tapes Vol. 3 is on-brand you could say, as it's still a new switch-up. Songs like "LUCY" and "Bad Connection" an example display the evolution of Jaden musically, as they are not compatible with the former big projects of his in SYRE and ERYS. They along with "Falling for You" sound like a dose of what The Beach Boys or the Beatles would look like if they were alive and actively making new tunes.
CTV3 remains part of the world Jaden's painted with some of the tracks like "Muted Sunrise", "Photograph", and "Endless Summer" with Raury which contain that "zen" quality he's established over the years in his music. With all the styles he's delivered over nearly the past decade, it makes all the sense that on this trippy cover, there are seven Jadens. Mostly recorded in the Bahamas, CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3's beach house energy is characterized into the psychedelic cover art with all seven Jadens on a flowery hill covered in rainbows. The amalgamation of the music, the videos, and the cover art match and blend very well together.
— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) August 31, 2020
The album ends with "Boys and Girls" and as Jaden (21) ages into an adult, he continues to exemplify a growth in understanding of what his voice means to the youth. His consciousness of social matters has bled into deciding what his messaging looks like. "Boys and Girls" is likely an encouragement to the next generation of world leaders to be themselves.
CTV3 can be streamed here.
Photo by Joshua Kissi