Actor/rapper Will Smith’s latter two offspring have both achieved infamy in their own separate (bizarre) ways. The now 13-year-old Willow’s painfully repetitive ‘Whip My Hair’ rose to viral fame for all the wrong reasons in 2010, and more recently older sibling Jaden’s stoner-logic Twitter activity has become the stuff of legend.
Based on these rather dubious claims to fame, one could not be blamed for a certain feeling of scepticism while pressing play on ‘Melancholy’, which samples Pink Floyd’s ‘Breathe’ underneath singing by Willow and a rap by Jaden. And yet, absurdly, it’s excellent.
While on Twitter Jaden’s pseudo-philosophy sound bites come across as comical at best, when spoken in an Earl Sweatshirt-style drawl over Floyd’s psychedelic guitar they feel perfectly at home. Admittedly, punchlines like “Full or hungry, don’t know what the difference is / I just hope we work out all our differences.” aren’t quite as deep and meaningful as he’d like to think they are – but he’s a 16-year-old boy. There’s plenty of time to work on lyrics that actually mean something, but ‘Melancholy’ already shows a style and ability beyond his years.
An ambitious but well-chosen sample, coupled with just enough vocal augmentation from Willow to keep things on the acceptable side of plagiarism, and a flow which already competes with the likes of Sweatshirt and Gambino: it’s difficult not to be impressed.