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Jaden Smith's 'CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3' Album Review

On Aug. 28 Jaden Smith released the third volume of his “Cool Tape” series. After releasing "CTV2" in 2014, it’s safe to say Smith’s style of music has changed. "CTV2" was released when Smith was just 16 years old – and you can tell. It’s very much, “this is the angry rap music high schoolers listen to.”

You can tell that Smith’s focus has shifted and his inspiration for this album was a lot different from "CTV2." "CTV2" was more about Smith himself, a replica of the music he listened to at the time and what he cared about. In fine print on the "CTV3" album cover, it says, “This is my last album about you.” Songs like “Cabin Fever,” “LUCY!” and “Falling For You” paint the picture of young love. It feels as if the 2014 album was dedicated to closing the rebellious teen phase chapter of his life, and the 2020 rendition is closing the “young heartbreak” chapter of his life.

That being said, I don’t see the correlation and connection between the two albums and Smith’s 2018 project "The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story." There doesn’t seem to be a smooth transition or a continuing story within the three albums. Smith’s style of music drastically changes throughout the three albums as well. "CTV2" is heavily rap influenced, "The Sunset Tapes" is heavily autotuned (in the best Jaden Smith-style way), and "CTV3" combines Smith’s music style with The Beatles and John Mayer. I think he creates great music. He paints a picture for his listeners, constantly releases new music and has a theme or story for each album. I don’t think that he does a good job of connecting them together or releasing them strategically – at least for the "Cool Tape" series.

"CTV3" itself is a really good album. Smith adapted his influences to his own style of music and combined different elements from his past albums. There are love songs, rap songs, and there’s finally another Justin Bieber feature. Releasing an album almost every year, it’s hard to come up with new, unique ideas and put out quality music. Smith doesn’t stray far from what he knows, and you can really hear the influences in his music.

Going forward, if Smith is going to continue the multiple part albums, he needs to ensure that there’s a common theme and sound throughout all of them. They need to have a continuous story and the first one needs to leave you begging for the second one. He needs to step out of the box, create music we haven’t heard before and stray away from adapting traits from his inspirations.


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