At 19, Jaden Smith is already a master provocateur. Whether he’s challenging gender norms in a Louis Vuitton skirt or holding forth on the power of prana energy, he knows how to get people talking. Now he’s hoping to start a global conversation about water. More specifically, Just water—the boxed-water brand he cofounded with his father, Will Smith, and others to cut down on plastic bottles. (Just’s 100 percent recyclable carton offers a 74 percent reduction in carbon emissions over plastic.) On a break from recording his second album—the follow-up to 2017’s Syre, named for his alter ego—Jaden talks about Mother Earth, that Louis Vuitton x Supreme collab, and Tiffany Haddish:
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Jaden Smith: Sorry I’m two minutes late. I was getting out of the water. I surf every day.
How’s the water today?
Cold. But I am one with the ocean!
You really had the idea for a recyclable water bottle when you were 11?
I really did. It all started when I found out there was a patch of plastic floating in the Pacific. That traumatized me as a young’un.
President Trump rolled back Obama-era clean-water regulations. Your generation will inherit this problem. Maybe I’m being too dramatic.
People are not being dramatic enough. This is such a serious problem. My number one inspiration is Al Gore—
Really? You’re cool. Al Gore is…
The coolest person in the world. I was watching An Inconvenient Sequel last night. Meeting him at TED was one of the best moments of my life.
Did he know who you were?
I think he was familiar with Just. I don’t remember if he was familiar with me.
Was he familiar with Syre?
[Laughs] No, no. That was before Syre.
Did anyone ever tell you you’re too young to have a song called “Icon”?
[Laughs] The song is not about me. That song belongs to the people. When a 10-year-old is in the car and they’re like, “Oh, I’m just an icon living,” it’s like, “Yeah. You are.” We’re gonna have 50 million climate refugees by 2050. We’re not going to be able to solve those problems if you don’t believe you’re an icon living right now.
You cry in at least two of your videos. When was the last time you cried?
I cry all the time. Last time I cried, I was just listening to a song that’s for my next album. I was driving to the beach and thinking about the world and how we can make a change with the youth—if we start being honest and get enough scientists mixed with young minds to really create a utopian world. My next album is extremely dark.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
At least you look good. I saw a paparazzi shot of you wearing a Louis Vuitton x Supreme shoulder bag. How does the bag feel?
Um, it’s cool. But I got rid of a good portion of my clothes. There’s an orphanage up in Camarillo, and I gave away a lot. I feel free. I don’t need clothes when I surf. Albert Einstein wore the same thing every day.
Just is getting into flavored water. You could do a red collaboration with Supreme.
That would be genius. Tell Supreme to hit me up if they’re down.
Your mom is friends with Tiffany Haddish—
Tiffany Haddish? Oh, man! One time, I went to a party. She was there. This was before I saw Girls Trip. She was just like, “Oh, what’s up, Jaden! What’s poppin’?” I was like, “What’s good?” She’s like, “I’ve been with your moms; we were in N’Awlins; we went to see alligators and shit. She’s lit! Your mom is poppin’.” Then I saw Girls Trip, and I was like, Oh my God!
You’ve got a movie coming out with Cara Delevingne, Life in a Year—a sort of bucket list for millennials. What would you do if you had only one year left to live?
I would release two to three albums a day, every day. And then I would surf. And go on tour. I would try to give back. I would try to reinvent Nikola Tesla’s machine that created wireless, free energy. I’d give away everything. I would try to start a hospital where you bring Eastern and Western medicine together. I would start a public school. Yeah, I would just do all of that.
This article originally appears in the May 2018 issue of ELLE.