Smith offspring, Jaden and Willow, have transformed themselves from subjects of scrutiny into respective young legends.
Prior to being the most popular genre in the world, hip hop was birthed from struggle; an outlet for those from marginalized communities and/or underprivileged. Accordingly so, radios would often oversee the genre and venues would denounce it. These historical roots often make it difficult for the hip-hop community to accept those artists who immediately start from a point of privilege — lacking some sort of heroic or underdog come-up story.
Therefore, one can only imagine how difficult it was for the Smith children to be taken seriously by the community — coming from parents Will and Jada Smith who have an estimated combined net worth of $300 million.
However, critically acclaimed projects such as Jaden’s SYRE and ERYS along with Willow’s Willow, have brought the spotlight onto the kids in a more positive manner. Furthermore, they are now known for being socially active and genuinely good people. Both are avid climate activists, and Jaden even runs a sustainable water brand “JUST Water”.
These two, now fully developed stars in their own right are known for being more than just celebrity offspring, have embarked on a co-headlining tour dubbed “THE WILLOW & ERYS Tour”. Toronto’s REBEL concert venue housed the Toronto show on December 3, 2019.
The tour set-up was quite intriguing from the get-go as it was creatively made to represent what the Smiths stand for. Rather than music playing before their sets, there were TED Talks and videos by activist Greta Thunberg pertaining to climate change and telling how significant of an issue it is. Instead of having plastic water bottles for the audience, the show carried “JUST Water”, Jaden’s aforementioned sustainable water brand. These were nice touches which made the audience feel like they were being treated to a genuine experience rather than just a performance.
Most impressively, however, was the amount of content fans were treated to. Willow had a 45-minute set and Jaden had a 90-minute set – an impressive total of two hours and fifteen-minute headliner content.
These sets were also executed very well, with appearances from both artists during both sets. Willow’s set started with co-ballad Summertime in Paris which had Jaden on stage with her for his verses. This had the crowd enthused and hyped from the beginning. Another standout moment from her set included her live version of Wait a Minute!, a catchy funk song which had the crowd bopping along in unison. Willow’s experimental and alternative take on R&B filled REBEL with good energy catchy tunes.
Jaden’s set beautifully began with ERYS intro P I N K, treating fans to the very exciting beat drop that comes in the song right after Willow’s initial crooning. This was executed on stage perfectly with Willow slowly singing the beginning lines then proceeding to walk off stage for Jaden to jump on erratically once his cue came. This and energetic hard-hitter Batman were his standout moments due to how well they were received by the crowd. Despite Jaden’s long set, there was never an instance of fatigue or dull content. Rather, fans enjoyed his set just as much as he was enjoying the performance. He consistently delivered for the duration.
Both performed to a strong extent and were shown to be humble and genuinely nice. In the midst of each of their performances, they paused the music to check on the crowd and if anyone was having trouble in the mosh pits. They both had their security pull out agonized fans and told the audience to wave their hands whenever they found someone hurt or uncomfortable. This is something that is nearly unheard of and was truly impressive for the musicians to do.
As mentioned, one of the biggest critiques that these two receive is lacking dense and introspective lyricism — not speaking of some sort of inspiring story or experience that resonates with individuals. On stage, this indeed did translate to a missing storytelling component of some sort. However, lacking this is also simultaneously a strength of the Smiths. Speaking about their truths — growing up rich and struggling with leaving their mark on the world — is where these two shine. They possess a unique level of authenticity. Most individuals would rather hear the story of a young rich kid acknowledging his/her point of privilege rather than falsifying a troubled origin story to fit in with the audience.
This aspect of their artistry is what indefinitely made this concert so strong. On top of being treated to the musical ability of these two talented musicians, fans saw a firsthand look into their character. With the TED Talks, sustainable water, and genuine concern for the members of the audience, fans saw that these are two musicians who truly practice what they preach.