Maybe you’ve heard of the artist Willow, or maybe you haven’t. I think it’s probably the former of the two and you just don’t realize it yet.
Take yourself back to 2010. Do you remember whipping your hair along to that super popular song, “Whip My Hair”? Or maybe, if you’ve spent some time scrolling on TikTok, you’ve come across the “Wait a Minute” challenge using a certain artist’s sound. Perhaps you’ve even heard a song by Willow and didn’t realize who you were listening to.
Well, she’s Willow Smith, daughter of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith and younger sister of Jaden Smith. Just based on her well-known family tree, she’s certainly no stranger to the world of performing — and she hasn’t shied away from it herself either.
These days, Willow Smith goes mononymously as “Willow.” She’s definitely not unfamiliar with the spotlight, taking on film, hosting and, of course, music. Her music venture has spanned at least 10 years, and it continues to grow every day.
Her social media presence is fairly transparent and uplifting; she addresses followers directly and she constantly shares photos of what she’s up to. She’s a positive artist and person, and her music deserves even more recognition than it is currently getting.
When I bring her up, I get an alarming amount of people saying, “Wait, that’s Willow Smith? The ‘Whip My Hair’ girl?” or “Will Smith’s daughter, Willow?” Yeah, it is her! She’s definitely grown since our first introduction to her.
It’s time to separate her from her family and first singles and give notice to the wonderful art she puts out through her current music and performances.
Willow’s Musical Style
Some of you may be used to that upbeat sound of “Whip My Hair” that just makes you want to dance, but try to put that memory on the backburner for now and see where she is currently. The new music Willow has put out sounds completely different, not only from her first single, but from a lot of music that’s currently out there.
The style of her music allows listeners to transcend reality through its layered instrumentals, varying beats and Willow’s soft yet powerful voice.
The psychedelic, colorful cover of her self-titled album, “Willow,” provides an image for her sound. I feel as though this music makes me experience a type of synesthesia, to the point where I can see colors that aren’t really there. She acknowledges the powerful vibrations and frequencies in her music and the effect that this has on the listener.
“Willow” itself is full of trancey, echoing vocals. It possesses that notable indie vocal style, but she still gives it her own twist. These factors will take you on a journey beyond sound, which seems to be a common theme in her music.
Her self-titled album, as well as her other recent albums, like “Ardipithecus” and “The 1st” have a similar effect. For instance, the song “Warm Honey” touches on an experience outside of reality when she sings, “Light beams in the sky speaking to my third eye, speaking through my third eye.”
If the sound itself isn’t enough to mentally take you to another place while listening, perhaps the lyrics will give you that push.
Even if you were familiar with Willow these past few years, she’ll continue to keep you on your toes and show you that you can’t predict what she’s going to come up with next.
“The Anxiety” Album and Art Exhibit
Willow collaborated with her partner, Tyler Cole, to release “The Anxiety,” their new 2020 album. The album was released in March, and they promoted it with a performance art piece in which they essentially personified anxiety.
For 24 hours, the pair trapped themselves inside a glass box at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, creating scenes that depicted eight different symptoms of anxiety.
For the exhibit, fans could watch Willow and Cole as they worked through the stages of anxiety, writing messages within the box and physically exhibiting reactions to their emotions. People gathered outside the box to watch, while the performance was also streamed on Twitch for those who couldn’t make it in person.
Different and entertaining, sure, but that’s what you can expect from Willow — an experience, an artistic performance. Cole posted on Instagram that the pair hoped their creation would help distract spectators from the current craziness happening in the world. Willow also expressed her wish that it would potentially soothe listeners. The album is currently available to stream on multiple platforms.
Willow Is Worth a Listen
Though she charmed the internet with the high-tempo, hip-hop song “Whip My Hair” back in 2010, a fairly repetitive song by a 10 year old can easily be dismissed and forgotten — although that song is an absolute jam, so it shouldn’t be brushed off, and the lyrics honestly have a pretty good message about ignoring negativity for listeners between all of the “whip my hair” choruses.
Willow is an extremely talented, poetic and beautifully individualistic person who clearly puts a lot of thought and effort into her art. If you’re unfamiliar with her, or skipped by her in the past, I encourage you to take a listen. What she’s put out recently is impressive and different from a lot of other music out there right now, and I am willing to bet she will continue her upward climb and we’ll remain satisfied with her future endeavors.