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Date TimeAugust 19, 2019
VoiceO2 Forum Kentish TownThrashing around, the artist shooting for the sad-rap stars lets his lighter side shine with summer singalongs alongside melodic trap meditations
Jaden review – rap enigma reaches an energetic frenzy
‘Batman, Batman, Batman, please save the day from demons,” pleads Jaden Smith early into his show, burning through his 2017 ode to the comic book hero. Since releasing his debut mixtape The Cool Cafe in 2012, the 21-year-old has more closely resembled a rap Riddler than stoic Dark Knight, however. For a start there’s his Twitter feed, where he’s pondered cosmic questions such as “How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?” Then there’s the larger riddle of exactly how serious the son of movie stars Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith is about hip-hop greatness. This year’s woozy, Travis Scott-indebted Eyrs album was a middling collection of melodic trap meditations that shot for the sad-rap stars, but fell short of his Texan inspiration’s glittering Astroworld. Flanked by design projects and philanthropic work, including admirable efforts to aid the Flint water crisis, it had the scattershot feel of an artist still working out which arena to dedicate his talents to.
Tonight’s set does little to answer his critics, but at least it’s energetic. Drenched in rose pink lights, performing in front of a screen of expensive-looking visuals, Smith is a frenzy, all raised eyebrows and thrashing limbs as he powers through tracks like Goku and N, which culminates in an emotive a capella singalong. Icon wins the biggest roar from the crowd of the night, the crowd screaming along to his claims that “I took the game with my eyes closed.” The star’s lighter side is allowed to shine: at one point he grabs a guitar from the side of the stage to perform a languid lullaby with echoes of Frank Ocean and Daniel Caesar, before the gorgeous Summertime delivers a pocket of romantic sunshine to rain-lashed north London.

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