Why we like what we like is sometimes a mystery, even to ourselves, and taste often has as much to do with the listener as it does with the song. Kwasi Ansu heard Jaden Smith's "The Coolest" and liked it more than he expected to.
West Los Angeles, born and raised, Jaden Smith dropped a mixtape this week called The Cool Café. The "single" on it, which he released last week with a video, was not promising on its face. Before I heard "The Coolest" I thought that this was just another entitled celebrity spawn experimenting with another foray into music. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had real talent, and wasn't whipping his hair back and forth or spreading a different strain of Beiber Fever.
I think the beat he's rhyming over here is — although simplistic — refreshing. It's just a bit of a break from the norm; just a little movement that breaks the monotony of all that hardcore dance I hear elsewhere on the Internet. I like the Mike Vargas-directed video, too — it shows a dingier side of Los Angeles that is vibrant and colorful at the same time, which I think perfectly matches the feeling of the song. I don't want to hand out the Teen Choice awards just yet, but this kid sounds to me like the real deal.
Like his parents, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden is an acting/music-making double-threat, and off to an early start in the film, fashion and music industries. At the ripe age of 14, he's actually off to an earlier start than his dad, and he's managed to squeeze in a couple of blockbuster movies before launching his rap career. To give you a little perspective, Google celebrated its 14th birthday last week. I know, right?
Jaden also seems to be prematurely developed in other areas that my 14-year-old self would have been jealous of, alluding to an older mistress and "a hottie that's really into yoga." But really, if you can't rap about the honeys, then what else is there for a 14-year-old son of millionaires to rap about? And I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but notice that he didn't use any profanity in the song. I think that is good and all, but I wonder if he took that page out of his dad's book initially — the same way he took the haircut — or if he tried cursing and his parents just didn't understand.
I coach young kids in lacrosse, and I'm happy there are decent rap songs being made for their ears — songs that are PG-rated and still listenable. But the real allure of "The Coolest" is the potential I hear in it. I like watching somebody grow and improve. I look forward to what Jaden cooks up in the future. Of course the haters gon' hate, and Fresh Prince 2.0 might not work out. But at least Jaden can take comfort in the fact that he can always fall back on his acting career, because this writer may or may not have cried at the end of The Karate Kid.