View photos Jaden Smith is changing things up.
“I want the world to know that I am switching professions and that I am becoming a full-time inventor,” the multi-hyphenate tells Complex. “I’m going to spend all of my time inventing new technologies because I think I’m better at that than making music.”
This might sound jarring considering he just dropped a new album, ERYS . But don’t worry, music is still aligned with his purpose. “I’m still going to make music because I invent new songs,” he assures us. “I invent new ways to make music, but I’m not a musician.”
At just 21 years old (his milestone birthday came just three days ago on July 8), Jaden has already begun to live up to the flashy new title. He is inventing new fashion trends, new systems with a purpose of changing the world, and of course, a new sound. In 2019 alone, he expanded his JUST Water brand and created filtration systems for the people of Flint, Michigan ; he dropped ERYS , the antagonistic alter ego to 2017’s SYRE ; and he launched the first “I Love You“ restaurant on wheels in Los Angeles , which delivered dozens of vegan meals to the homeless.
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That’s only the beginning. Jaden speaks about each project with intense calculation and passion. “I’m not going to stop until I’m like Elon Musk,” he declares.
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So, allow us to reintroduce you to Jaden (just Jaden, no Smith). Days after the release of his new album, he spoke with Complex about ERYS , Flint, serving the underserved, and changing the world, one invention at a time. The interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity, is below.
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View photos Photo by Shanley Kellis More What did it take to access darker emotion and aggression on ERYS ?
It’s kind of naturally inside of me sometimes. That‘s why I felt the need to make the album, because I have a lot of feelings. For a while, when you feel strongly about something, you can feel a lot of different ways about it. Something very, very specific happened to me and if you listen to the music, you’ll know what it is. But something happened to me a while ago and my reaction to that thing for a long time was being sad. I was sad for like four or five years, and then it kind of reverted. I saw that from being sad, nothing really happened in this particular situation. I didn’t get any closer to my goal from being sad. So then I started to get really upset, and I started to get really mad, and I started to get really angry about the whole situation. What kind of birthed ERYS is that anger that I had, because I felt like me showing my sadness and being sad wasn’t getting me anywhere. And ultimately, being mad is not going to get me anywhere either. The next album, I don’t know, just try to be happy on the next album and see what that does.
You mentioned a specific moment in your life, an incident. Would you care to explain?
I would want to see what you would assume.
From my understanding, I thought it was heartbreak.
It is. That‘s what it is. You can be sad from your heartbreak, and be sad for a while. Then you get mad. You get stuck in it. Some people get over it, but if you don’t get over it, you get stuck and you get mad.
Me and my family are continuing to reach out to [ASAP Rocky’s] team to try to figure out how we can get involved and what we can do to.
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Did you ever feel like you needed to take a moment to really process that anger and fully let it go?
No, I haven’t really let it go. But with this anger, I did need times to really process it. It’s all gone now, because it’s just not as strong as it was before I made the album. I put it out. People are vibing with it. People understand what’s happening. I’m kind of over it. I’m kind of happy that it got out and I feel like I really expressed that side of myself so thoroughly that I don’t necessarily have to continue down this path.
Because let me tell you something. I didn’t film anything in the ERYS sessions. We didn’t allow people to film. Like we have a whole team, Westbrook Media and Westbrook Studios, the management company. We have a whole team of people that can film us and help us and create content for us to post and all that. I specifically didn’t have anyone in the studio because I didn’t want anyone to see what it was like making this album, because it was crazy. It was really, really insane and it’s like I couldn’t have any cameras or anything in the studio because it was just wild. I mean, I’m going to just tell you some information I feel like you should know. Like, the end of “K” where I whip out the clippers, have you heard that part?
What else is there?
More pop-ups. And my goal is to eventually open up a permanent restaurant that gives away food seven days a week. Like, three meals a day, seven days a week, all the time. All free. That‘s my goal. That‘ll change the world. Also, the reason that this is so close to home for me is because for The Pursuit of Happyness , I would sleep inside of homeless shelters sometimes just to shoot a scene. But all of the people that were actually in The Pursuit of Happyness , we hired real homeless people. I would be so close with real homeless people and I would see that at a young age, and I wouldn’t understand. I’d ask my dad, “What‘s happening?” He’d just be like, “You know, this is the way that life is sometimes. There’s people that are less fortunate than us that have to go through really hard things. That‘s what this movie’s all about.” That really impacted me from a young age, too.