I had the luxury of seeing Jaden and Willow Smith in concert on Monday, Nov. 25. The show was at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it was far from what I was expecting.
A friend of mine got me hooked on Jaden Smith during my freshman year here at Rowan, and I always knew he was a little weird. The tracks made sense to me, though, because his musical abilities were matched by his storytelling skills; his albums were extensions not necessarily of himself, but of the characters that he was building.
“SYRE,” Jaden Smith’s middle name and debut studio album, is a beautiful fusion of multiple genres into a hip-hop base that we have seen from plenty artists in the last few years. “ERYS,” Jaden’s second studio album and alter-ego, is another phenomenal amalgamation, but mostly of sub-genres within rap and hip-hop.
There are less undertones of R&B and rock in “ERYS,” but the project still hits the mark in terms of its quality.
Both albums are the product of what I like to call the “rich kid’s playground,” in which someone in a financial position similar to Will Smith’s son can use an immense amount of capital to pursue any hobby they’d like, and most likely excel at it not necessarily because of talent but because of the value of the tools at their disposal.
Standouts from Jaden Smith’s discography are “B L U E” and “P I N K.” Both are four song arrangements that beautifully flow into each other, and they synced even more impressively in a live setting. Both start with gospel-esque chimes from Willow Smith that have a number of bible references and church-sounding tones. The segue from B to L and P to I are both simply incredible, and bring Jaden Smith to the forefront of the song.
For the rest of “BLUE”, heavy rock and guitar melodies are used, where “PINK” sounds like a small Travis Scott EP.
Now of course, I very much like Jaden Smith and most of his discography, but I was skeptical as to whether he and his sister were born with their talents, or if they’re products of their parent’s connections. The concert was the perfect chance to find out the truth.
The verdict is that live, these two are incredible. They went up to the stage separately, but Willow Smith is in so many of Jaden Smith’s songs that it was essentially a brother-sister duo on tour… and I loved every second of it.
Willow sang by herself first, and despite not knowing much of her music I couldn’t help but match the energy of all her fans in the crowd. Most of her set had a backdrop in outer space, an ominous yellow light consistently behind her. Paired with a autotune effect that gave her a booming, echoing and deep yet beautiful voice, I was convinced that Willow Smith is actually God. Her voice with these effects is a confusing, hypnotizing sound that simply makes your jaw drop. And even without it, Willow has an elegant sound throughout Jaden’s set, which mixes perfectly with her brother’s rugged trap sounds.
I enjoyed Jaden’s set from start to finish: it had a blend of his trap-rap upbeat songs to get the crowd going, some slower R&B songs to connect to the audience and of course his rock songs to pour his heart into.
Willow’s vocals provide incredible background and together the Smith kids create a harmony that I have never experienced.
Oh, and at the end, Jada and Will Smith came out.
Yes, I was about 10 feet away from Will Smith, on accident. He and Jada essentially sang the chorus to “Summertime in Paris” in place of their children. The final chorus included all four of them just having fun on stage as a family, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so pure.
However, the Fresh Prince himself didn’t perform the coveted theme song about a particular west-side part of a city that we happened to be in, so there’s plenty of room to complain.
But overall, the Smith family put on a phenomenal show, and the Willow Smith and “ERYS” duo created an extremely upbeat energy in the crowd that would be immediately shattered and brought down by a love song, only to be brought back up in louder passion.