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CTV3: a Mixtape for Generation Z

In an interview with Apple Music, Jaden said, “I’m just tryna make the kids happy right now, man,” regarding his new mixtape, CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3. Indeed, this LP acts as the last contented sunset of a grueling summer: it finds beauty even in the political tumult that we have come to know as the year 2020. CTV3 is the redemptive anthem of this year, and its bubblegum-pink sound matches the euphoria of an anesthetized generation.

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The chief characteristic of this mixtape is the tension between its pleasing sound and its hyper-aware lyrics. Composed of mostly love songs, it still manages to touch on anxiety, drug use, and racial tension. The effect of this is that it lays bare the always-anxious disposition of our age group. For example, the single, “Cabin Fever,” tackles coronavirus grief head-on: “I’m at home thinking ‘bout you and me / ‘Cause girl I got that cabin fever.” CTV3 sees Jaden empathizing with listeners and offering them comfort in his music.

 

Drug references are frequent on this album. “LUCY!” has a retro sound that sweetly depicts a date: “On our first special date / I thought we’d just hallucianate.” “Deep End,” my favorite track, has a similarly psychedelic feel: “Zero gravity, wait 'til the lights get low / You're in my room but we're in space though / There's a lake on the moon.” Such sentiments reflect the free, reckless nature of youth.

flowers at sunset Photo by Brian Garcia on Unsplash

Youth is also very powerful on this album, however. As a young Black man, Jaden uses his platform to analyze racial tension and ultimately offer bold optimism. Over a lo-fi beat on “Rainbow Bap,” he raps, “Blood diamonds, ancestors fightin' with colonists / Know your history, inherit the confidence.” On the surface, this is a love song about traveling the world with a girl, but lines like this reveal it to be a commentary on Black history and colonialism. Our generation comes into play with lines like “Got a question for the youth, is the world venomous to you?” from “In the Hills.” Almost as a rebellious answer to this question, the last track on the album is a swelling, gratified assertion of hope. In this song, “Boys and Girls,” Jaden sings, “And the sun will rise above and hit our doors / And we'll march out, we're moving forwards / Into brighter futures where we're moving towards.” At the end of an album chronicling the numbing struggles of his generation, Jaden intentionally leaves no question as to how he feels about the future that lies in our hands.

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CTV3 is a mixtape about coming of age in the 21st century. Its lyrics range from happy musings about sunsets to political statements. Most importantly, though, its relaxed sound is comforting, like the smile of a friend. Jaden said himself that he wanted to make the kids happy with this mixtape - here’s to hoping that he does.