With the release of his album “ERYS,” it is fair to say that 21-year-old rapper Jaden Smith is the rose that grew from the millennial concrete. In the current days of subpar rap songs played over an archetypal beat, “ERYS” is the album that stands out. The sophomore album sets the bar high for today’s rising rap stars and will be remembered as a remarkable piece of art.
“ERYS” follows up the story of Smith’s “SYRE” album, in which the young rapper unfolds the fictional journey of Syre, a lost boy who struggles with heartbreak, unrequited love and the pain of knowing the social issues in America. The JUST Water co-founder uses this saddened character to express his depression. The humble lyricist goes further to identify his mood as “blue.” The term is repeatedly used throughout the album to maintain a melancholy tone.
Syre is the tale of “a boy who chased the sunset until it chased him.” The Roc Nation artist uses the narrative to represent his pursuit of love, light and happiness. However, Smith is not aware that chasing the sun for too long will eventually backfire.
Smith’s heartbreak, pain and disappointment is a metaphor for being burned by the sun. Syre is saddened by what once made him happy. He now has to figure out how to live with a dark state of mind.
As the album winds down, the transition from the lyricist’s defeated disposition to a careless rebel becomes noticeable, hence the birth of “ERYS.” Erys — which is “Syre” spelled backward — is the rebellious side of the Smith who has “lost his way and found it in the dark.” Intentionally, the album is the opposite of Syre’s values and desires.
Erys is the alter ego of Syre, an arrogant and careless spirit who avoids his emotional spirals by falling in love with material things, such as gold and diamonds that become the creators of his pride. In the second album, Smith contrasts the blue mood of Syre with the “pink” lifestyle of Erys, a life of material possession that holds temporary bliss.
When Syre is not “running with the pain that the youth has been inflicted with,” Erys is focused on purchasing “the whole Cartier catalog.” “SYRE” is a sophisticated approach to telling a story of a lost soul, however, the young rapper’s feelings would not be fully explained without “ERYS.”
“ERYS” is the fulfillment of Smith’s previous work. The sequel dives deeper into Smith’s mind, in which he often struggles with the pure persona of Syre and the materialistic side of Erys. It is difficult for Smith to identify with one character, therefore, he often conflicts with both. The poetic nature of “ERYS” counters the normality of the current hip-hop scene.
Smith knows that his rapping style is the most eclectic at the moment. “I” is the second song on “ERYS” in which Smith mentions that he “understands they don’t get it / They just wanna see the flick of the wrist.” The musician is referring to rap listeners and artists who do not understand the context of his music and would rather hear someone rap about superficial possessions, such as the flickering of diamonds on an expensive watch.
Moreover, Smith’s work is relatable “for the kids feeling lost.” Smith admits that although he comes from a life of fame and fortune, his emotions are as fickle as any other human, if not more, as he lives a life under the spotlight. The issue of mental health is universal, making his music accessible to a large audience.
Although, many gain stardom and popularity, a majority of today’s rap is mind-numbingly repetitive and unoriginal. Smith believes that instead of rapping about money, cars, clothes, jewelry and obscene perceptions of women, he is going to make music that does not conform to societal interests. Although, this has been historically acceptable in hip-hop, Smith believes that the “pink” lifestyle lacks any real substance.
“ERYS” also stands out from today’s rap music because it is a reflection of his reality. Modern-day rap is often full of posers who make songs for the desire of a making a hit rather than the love for music. This often causes listeners to forget about the music soon after it hits the charts. Music that reveals the artist’s true emotions while being relatable to whoever listens is artwork capable of leaving a legacy.
Unlike today’s rap, “ERYS” portrays the true feelings of what Smith and many other young people feel, struggling through the phases of being confused in life while also wanting to be careless and free.
It is commendable that the Smith is capable of maintaining his ground in hip-hop, being that he has not lived the life of the average rapper. The rap genre details a “rags to riches” narrative. Smith comes from a life of fame and fortune being that he is the child of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, two of the highest-paid actors in the world.
Smith is aware that his rapping style is different. However, due to his musical realism, passion for the art form and a dedication to staying true to himself, the “Icon” singer is earning his stripes in the music business. In fact, his single “Icon” is gold-certified, selling over 500,000 units and currently holding 100 million streams.
The release of “ERYS” creates a brilliant juxtaposition with Smith’s initial project, a familiar concept in movies, literature and poetry, but a rarity in today’s rap music. Smith proves that the key to artistry is a fearless expression and a passion to inspire others to be truthful about their reality.
Although underrated by a majority of rap fans, Smith’s storytelling and poetic approach to his music are deeply appreciated by listeners who yearn for music with a deeper meaning. Smith’s use of fictional characters to describe his emotions is what makes the album great and is why “ERYS” will be remembered as a work of art that paints the story of “a beautiful confusion.”