The last time I heard Willow Smith’s name was in 2010 when “Whip my Hair” was at an all-time high. Any chance I got in 6th grade, I would attempt to “whip” my monochromatic, barely past shoulder-length hair in an attempt to mimic her iconic music video. She was the epitome of “cool,” embracing something unique to her. 2010 turned to 2011, and so on, and Smith’s funky, fresh beat turned into nothing but part of a Zumba workout playlist. Last year I started to wondered what ever happened to Willow, as do most millennials with childhood stars. I only just found an answer to this this past October.
On Halloween of this year, Willow Smith dropped her album “The 1st.” It felt like it came out of nowhere with no advertising or before-hand hype. I only discovered it by the recommendation of a friend. Upon adding it to my music library, I was apprehensive. I knew I had grown out of the intense beats and pop-like music that Willow once made. Was it going to be a repeat of 2010 or had she also matured? I did my initial listen as I wasted away in the library, attempting to work on a physics problem set. Within seconds, I was in love.
On a whole, “The 1st” combines classic alternative beats, with subtle R&B undertones and acoustic vibes. Some songs even contain violin and piano. I listen to this album when I’m cleaning, when I’m walking to class or even in a “mood.” Her lyrics really analyze the workings of young love, relationships and growing up. Her voice is simply amazing and has a very raw feel to it. One of my favorite songs from the album is “Lonely Road.” The lyrics speak about messing up in life and feeling isolated through those mistakes. I enjoy listening to it when I’m in my “feels.” If Beyoncé and Florence and the Machine had a child, it would be this song. Another valid track is “Warm Honey.” This one has a strong resemblance of the sassiness that a young Willow once portrayed in “Whip my Hair.” The song’s lyrics talk about existence when in love.
Overall, this album will be a long time favorite of mine. Although I’ll throw down to “Whip my Hair” any day of the week, I am much happier sipping coffee and listening to “The 1st.” I admire Willow’s ability to mature and grow as an artist. I think her transformation can remind us all that we have the ability to change our style and that self-identity is ever evolving. I see big things her future and can’t wait to see what she will accomplish.
Written by Zoey Miller