I’ve been a Will Smith fan for years, with a deep enthusiasm for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Independence Day and Men In Black, and also for Smith’s debut solo album Big Willie Style. I still have fond memories of my cousins and I—to our parents’ protest—rapping along to “Miami” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.”
With the joy I found from Smith’s career, I thought I would feel the same towards his kids, Jaden and Willow. But alas, that never happened. The two worked as actors but I never really took either of their musical pursuits seriously, especially after their bizarre interview with The New York Times’ T Magazine in November 2014, where I realized that the siblings operate in a world I can’t relate to.
One of the more absurd comments made in the article came in the latter half of the interview, when Willow proclaimed, “There're no novels that I like to read, so I write my own novels, and then I read them again, and it's the best thing,” to which Jaden replied, “Willow’s been writing her own novels since she was 6.”
I laughed my way through the whole thing and wrote the siblings off as young and naïve.
While I appreciate Willow’s aesthetic, I still can’t bring myself to enjoy her music. Jaden, though, has more readily entered my periphery, particularly with his gender-fluid style. What turned me from skeptic to believer, though, is the release of his latest song and video, “Fallen.”
Set in a Westworld-esque scene—what the opening credits deem as Calabasas in 1837—and clad in a khaki-colored vest, jeans, some sort of fringed-waist accessory and Marty McFly's high-top Nike Air Mags, we first see Jaden stumbling, gagging and throwing up. Though I’m still not entirely sure what to read into that—Is he physically sick from being in love? There’s blood on his shirt, is he reeling from being shot?—I chalk it up to Jaden’s idiosyncratic behavior.
In between shots of him falling over, Jaden cavorts throughout the town, beautiful vistas acting as the backdrops. Over a subdued and celestial beat, he sings and raps about a girl whom he’s fallen in love with, perhaps Dessa, whom he dedicates the video to.
For me, Jaden has finally grown into his role as a tastemaker and musician, and that’s why I appreciate “Fallen.”
Details, such as Jaden’s swaggy style, background vocals by Kevin Abstract, Jaden freely dancing on a mountaintop in front of a wonderfully hued sunset, and Kid Cudi's (who premiered the video via Twitter) Man on the Moon vinyl appearing throughout, really pull the video together. Though Jaden isn’t alone—a couple friends pop up in the video—the video still intuits a feeling of solitude; perhaps Jaden feels alone in his love.
Whatever the case, I'm no longer a skeptic.
By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram