Jaden Smith has a wide range of influences, and he wears them on his sleeve. The 20-year-old is an intriguing rapper, working on the mechanics to become a good rapper. On “Back On My Sh*t” he isn’t there yet, but the process is getting closer to its endpoint.
Here’s a list of what Jaden manages to cram into the less than three-minute song: rap like a mini-Offset, distort his voice like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-era Kanye, include a Houston-indebted chopped and screwed narration and deliver a Justin Vernon vocoder-inspired outro. Those different components shouldn’t work together, but Smith attempting to make something coherent out of the mess is daring, and half the fun. (And, to be fair, plenty of people let Childish Gambino get away with the same thing on “This Is America.”)
Smith’s rap career is having a good week. On Monday, the world got to hear the SYRE rapper go head-to-head with one of the most talented rappers of his generation. Jaden shared how his On The Rvn collaboration with Young Thug came about with Beat’s 1 Zane Lowe.
“[Young Thug is] such an individual and he just pushes boundaries and that’s why I always knew that we were destined to do something together,” Smith explained. “I feel like we kind of saw each other from afar through the internet and I knew that we had a lot in common. I feel like we have a lot of common in the studio too.”
“Back On My Sh*t” is featured on the soundtrack for Skate Kitchen, which came out last month and features Smith as the protagonist’s love interest, Devon. In a July interview with Rolling Stone, Smith discussed his philosophy on skateboarding after acting in a movie about it.
“The whole culture of skating is rebellious to the system,” he says. “You’re like, ‘I’m not gonna walk, I’m not gonna run, I’m not gonna drive. I’m gonna skate’ — which is closer to flying.”