When we were 10, most of us dreamed of becoming someone who would change the world. Whether it was neurosurgeons or Nobel Prize winners, we let our imaginations run wild with ambition, and while we might have drawn up our goals in the margins of math textbooks with doodled stars alongside, our plans wouldn’t come into fruition for many years to come. But Jaden Smith isn’t most of us. When he was 10 years old, after seeing images of dirty plastic water bottles littering precious oceans and harming natural habitats, the youngster knew he had to make an immediate change in the world he was seeing around him.
Five years later, what started as an idea and passion grew into a $100 million water company, creating bottled water using 82% renewable resources, and the timing couldn’t be better. As the world around us is beginning to become more aware of our environmental impact, more and more consumers have turned to responsible alternatives, and top of the list is Smith’s popular and resourceful bottled water company, JUST Water.
We started it when I was just 10 years old,” he proudly recalls. “I wanted to create bottled water that wasn’t as deadly as a plastic bottle, and this one is so much better for the environment. To have a bottle emit less CO2 and have less plastic content in it, while trying to also make a product, is something that we are continuously trying to improve. We started in the market at 50% renewability and then eventually got to 72% and then 80%, and we’re trying to keep going up and up in regards to renewability.”
Jumper by DRIES VAN NOTEN
Jumper by DRIES VAN NOTEN
When I first jump on the call with the 22-year- old, the effervescent energy that shines through everything he does is immediately evident. Greeting me with a cool, calm and collected LA accent, the multi-hyphenate’s charismatic and charming personality radiates through the phone, and we quickly lose ourselves in conversation from everything from his home painting skills to Robert Pattinson. Having spent the past few years at full speed ahead, dropping psychedelic albums and fronting fashion trends, the artist assures me that this quarantine was needed for a reset. “Developing new skills and working on them is important to me,” he emphasises, “and I’m just tryna lay low after just a crazy year and spend more time with the family.”
A crazy year would be an understatement. Protests, the pandemic and the presidential election have dominated the start of the new decade, jolting society and opening up the eyes of millions of people across the world to injustice and unfairness. But this new wave of self-awareness and empowerment wouldn’t have emerged so powerfully if it wasn’t for Smith’s generation. While it might seem like our days are filled with endless scrolling through meaningless TikTok dances and memes on Twitter, the digital natives have succeeded in leading a social media revolution, with both the Black Lives Matter movement and the US election at the forefront.
With the election hanging in the balance and the future of America in turmoil, Smith and I reflect on the past year and how his generation’s voice is as important as ever, as well as the inspiration behind his latest album, CTV3: Cool Tape Vol.3, and creative influences from fashion to film.
All clothing by CRAIG GREEN Shoes MSFTS x NEW BALANCE
All clothing by CRAIG GREEN Shoes MSFTS x NEW BALANCE
What have you been up to throughout quarantine?
I’ve really just been laying low here. I’ve been recording a lot, and I’ve just been trying to learn how to play the guitar, spend more time painting, and just spending time with family.
Talk to me about JUST Water — what prompted your decision to start the company?
I had two teachers teaching me about the environment in different ways. I started learning how special it was from one teacher, and then also about how if affects us from another teacher. That’s what really inspired me to continue to learn about it, but then to also try and occupy the space and make a difference and create change.
What’s been the most rewarding part of the whole project?
I think just being able to start a company with my family, but to also learn throughout the process so much about it and speaking with people who I really look up to. The whole thing has been really rewarding because it’s been an educational experience for me, and that’s why it’s impacted my life.
What are your hopes for the future of the company?
I just hope that we can continue to innovate in the bottled water manufacturing world, make it more sustainable and more renewable and continue to push the science behind it and expand the products — whether it’s made by JUST, or by other people.
You’re very outspoken on social issues, too. What sparked this at such a young age?
I’ve been surrounded by people who have been very aware of everything that’s happening, and have made me aware of my position and how I can influence for the better and spread a positive message. People have made me very aware of this in my life and I just try to do that and spread a positive message as much as I can.
All clothing by JACQUEMUS
All clothing by JACQUEMUS
Growing up in the spotlight, have you ever felt pressured to be anyone else?
No matter if you grew up in the spotlight or not, you’re gonna feel the pressure to be someone else, to conform. We all face that, whether we choose to do that, or be ourselves and continue to do exactly what we feel, even if it’s non-conventional. You have to follow your gut, because sometimes we might be doing something powerful that needs to be done by standing up for something or people who haven’t been spoken for. You might be standing up for a whole group of people by doing something you want to do, even when it’s nonconventional. I think it’s important to do that. Everyone is met with those challenges and we all have an opportunity to rise above it.
You also started a series on Snapchat called The Solution Committee, which educates people on so- cial justice issues and urges them to vote. What do you think puts young people off voting?
The demographic for younger people between 18-23 is much lower than older people, who are voting more in past elections. I think it’s maybe that younger people aren’t really educated enough to cast a vote, or they’re not passionate about it because they don’t know how it affects their life. They maybe haven’t lived enough, or live in a way that political polices affect the way of their life and the people around them. I feel like a lot of young people might not have had the experiences that come with time and know the importance, and they just need a crash course on the history to show them how it’s important to continue the legacy. I put together The Solution Committee to highlight that and give young people the information they need to see, and let them know why the world needs them right now.
How do you think we can implement change, especially in the younger generations?
I feel like younger generations are really seeing the reality of what’s going on in the world, how people are being treated and how things are being run. And I just feel like the fact that young- er people are seeing that, it’s really sparking a change as well — to the point where everyone reads all the conversations and that information, because what has happened this year has made them think ‘OK, I need to be involved because the world is not what I thought it was’. A lot of people already knew it was happening, but a lot of people were only just seeing it as it gets televised. People are seeing it and it’s be- ing brought to the forefront now. I really think young people are getting active to go out and go vote. I’ve seen a lot of parties and T-shirts where young people are like ‘F this, we’re gonna go out and vote’, and they’re making it the topic of conversation in their friend groups. That’s the best way to get people to vote, through friendship groups, and that’s what I’m doing with The Solution Committee because we’re all friends and it’s important for me.
This year you dropped your third album too — what was your creative process for the record?
I took a lot of time to focus on this album. I feel like this album is like a prequel and goes back in time. It talks about an earlier time in my life, and it’s talking from the perspective of a young Jaden. I think it’s really a different sound for me. I like to experience different sounds and I want to continue to do everything and not stay in the same lane, which is what people would expect. I’m really excited for the future and the songs on this album.
(LEFT) All clothing by DIOR MEN (RIGHT) Vest and jacket by MAISON MARGIELA Trousers by LEVI’S Watch (attached to jacket) by OMEGA
All clothing by DIOR MEN Vest and jacket by MAISON MARGIELA Trousers by LEVI’S Watch (attached to jacket) by OMEGA
How would you describe your music?
I’m trying to tap into some psychedelic alternative hip-hop… It’s a bunch of different genres put together, that’s really what the music is. I’m really happy about it and the impact that it’s having right now.
When you were creating the album, did you look to anyone for inspiration?
I was looking at a lot of The Beach Boys’ music, I love them. I love The Beatles too, and Jimi Hendrix, and different older acts like Chuck Berry. I was really diving into different music for this album.
Where do you get the inspiration for the visuals?
A lot of people don’t know that I direct a lot of my music videos. I directed the “Icon” video, the “Ninety” video… It’s a passion of mine. A lot of my music videos have that sunset and everything; that’s kind of how you know that I’m directing it and not somebody else. I just pull together inspirations from my life. It’s all telling an elaborate story about my life through different characters, and maybe someday everyone will know what I’m saying and who I’m talking about.
Would you ever go further and direct your own films?
Yeah, I really do want to make my own short movie about the legacy of Syre.
You’re also really experimental with fashion — who are your style influences?
I always say Chris Isaak is one of my fashion idols, which is true. I always say Batman as well, which is also true. I really love Batman. Honestly, he has some of the best style, as well as Bruce Wayne. I really look to them and the movies to find the right fit and the right style. I look to sci-fi movies…
What are your favourite sci-fi movies?
Maybe 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love Ready Player One; I love Tenet, all the outfits in Tenet! Just Robert Pattinson, whatever Robert Pattinson wears.
He’s so good, and he’s the new Batman as well, which is coincidental.
I’m excited to see Robert Pattinson as Batman. I also love John David Washington and whatever John David Washington wears, he’s my style inspiration. I’ve watched Tenet seven times; I’m not even halfway done with the number of times I’m gonna watch that movie… I have to watch it again, because the first time you’re just watching it and the second time you’re like ‘OK, I have to think’. But it was actually a sick film.
Aside from your music and activism, what more can we expect from you?
I’m gonna be doing everything that I can pos- sibly do… I’m really excited for the holidays to come and to spend time with family, and just lay low for the rest of the year.
Tasha Brown at The Wall Group
Entertainment Producer & Director
Location Courtesy of
Mark Kitching at Douglas Elliman
JUST Water, Pukka Teas, Health-Ade and Mary Shenouda at Phat Fudge.