Jaden Smith, shot exclusively for Wonderland by Andrew Davis and Rory van Millingen. Read the full interview here.
“I talked to President Obama about extraterrestrials. He said he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of aliens, which means they’re real. If people think we’re the only people that live in this universe, then something is wrong with them.”
Today, Jaden’s engulfed in a metallic jacket. It’s like the kind of tinfoil space blanket you’d wear, fatigued, after completing a marathon. But he’s exuberant. He runs about the studio with his friend and former Hannah Montana actor, Moises Arias, who takes photos of Jaden posing in an oversized hat.
For his Wonderland interview, the door opens and a wall of his entourage parts to reveal Jaden on a skateboard, cruising towards the table. He stops the board just in time to avoid a crash. “Did you see that?” he asks, referring to the skating trick. “What I just did under the chair? I can’t demonstrate it. But it was cool. Really cool.”
Cool, it soon transpires, is Jaden’s favourite word. The Cool Café: CoolTape Volume 1, is his debut hip-hop collection, recorded in his LA home studio last year, with the help of Kid Cudi. One of its songs, ‘The Coolest‘, is Jaden’s ode to “the coolest and the smoothest and the crudest and the rudest and the stupid kids,” rapped in a laconic drawl, like the Fresh Prince gone groggy.
“I try to go for the trippy vocals, the trippy sounds, because that’s what really makes a production, you know what I mean?” he says. “I was going for that kind of lo-fi sound, so I could show people that I don’t need big budgets and that it’s serious – we’re rapping and it’s not a game. The movement, and everything, it’s actually real. We’re serious about it.”
“That’s the type of artist I am. I let it flow out the way it’s going to flow out, and I don’t care what people are going to think about it. It’s really like a journey into my life – if you listen and pay attention to the lyrics. People like to hear honest things and that’s what really makes an artist. if you’re lying, you can disconnect from the story, and if you disconnect from the story then people won’t like you any more.”
Talk soon turns to his next trip to the Cool Café. he’s keeping coy about Volume 2, which he’s currently working on.
“Nobody was expecting CoolTape Volume 1, so absolutely nobody is expecting CoolTape Volume 2. Like, you have no idea what I’m going to do. You don’t even understand.”
He does reveal, though, that it will feature his hair-whipping, rapper-singer sister Willow. “It’s really fun working with her because she kind of gets my vision.”
Of course, the Smiths have always kept it in the family. Jaden, born in 1998, appeared on screen before he was even born: Will’s video for ‘Just The Two Of Us‘ features an expectant Jada, lying on a sofa, stroking her bump.
Jaden remembers asking his dad why people screamed his name, although he struggles to think of a time when he wasn’t aware of Will’s global fame. “I saw his first movie when I was one,” he says. “I mean, I went to premieres before I could talk. I’m really happy and fortunate, and thankful that I can get brought up in a family as lucky as mine.”
The Smiths are back on screen this summer. After Earth finds Jaden starring alongside his dad for the first time since his acting debut in 2006’s In Pursuit of Happiness. Filming for After Earth took them to Costa Rica, Utah and northern California.
“It’s basically about a thousand years after earth and people travel to the future to a planet called Nova Prime and then…” he emits a long sigh. “My dad in the movie is like the biggest soldier of all time and I’m his son – so kind of how it is in real life. We crash-land on Earth and we have to figure out this whole situation.”
Before saving the world, he’s got a spring line to launch. MSFtS (pronounced Misfits) is the label Jaden set up with Moises and Mateo Arias, with the designs inspired by their skating.
“It’s kind of just black on black. We all really like black, so almost everything in the line is black. Some would call it street goth. I would say it’s a fashion-forward street brand.
“I want it to be as big as possible, an all over the world thing. Because everybody can be a misfit. It’s not just a clique. People ask me if they can be misfits all the time. But everybody is a misfit.” Why’s everybody a misfit? I ask.
“I mean, they’re a misfit because they’re different. You’d have to ask them.” Do you ever feel like a misfit?
There’s a long silence.
“Every. Single. Second of my existence,” he sighs.
In what ways are you a misfit? “I’m always not following the rules, breaking stuff, running all over the place, trying to kickflip, like, just crazy things. You’d have to hang out with me for a day to see.”
He’s in london to open for his best mate, Justin Bieber, at the O2 arena and two shows in, he’s experienced the force of his fans. “They go crazy every time we put on a hype track. It’s awesome.”
But it’s a tour that has become infamous following Bieber’s peculiar behaviour: prowling shirtless through chilly London, arriving on stage two hours late, a hospitalisation suffering from breathing difficulties and scuffles with the paparazzi.
Worst of all was the evening that will now be referred to as “Bieber’s botched birthday”. The Canadian star’s 19th celebrations were scuppered when his friends were turned away from the Cirque du Soir club. But Jaden missed out on all the controversy-courting shenanigans, he says.
“I went to his hotel. I gave him his Cartier. And then I went to see Kanye West perform,” he says. “I got him the Love Bangle, not the watch. It cut him, but yeah, he thought it was cool.”
During the same trip he’s been photographed with Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian’s half-sister, on dates in Café Nero, with will providing the chaperone services. But you’ll have to wait for the next mixtape to find out what’s really going on, though.
“I was in LA, we were all hanging out. Then I went to New York and she came too, and then she came here and surprised me, so that’s pretty baller. She’s one of my best friends. It’s pretty awesome.”
He talks about his plans for the next few months, which include “hanging out, finishing the CoolTape Volume Two, maybe going to Italy, and yeah, just coolin’ it.” And with that, he grabs his skateboard and coolly glides away. School, it seems, is very much out.
Image 1: Jaden wears T-shirt by KTZ, cap by Thrasher and bracelet, Jaden’s own
Image 2: Jaden wears black neoprene jumper by Katie Eary, black hooded top by MFSTSREP, black denim jeans by Monkee Genes and ring Jaden’s own.
Words: Paul Smith
Styling: Andrew Davis
Images: Rory van Millingen