Willow Smith is 17.
Let that sink in.
Emerging from the shadows of her power couple parents, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, the free-spirited teen has certainly blossomed past the days of “whipping her hair back and forth." She's an actress, a self-taught music producer, a singer, and a “bourgeoning woman." She's also incredibly self-aware.
Recently she sat down with Refinery29 to discuss the release of her latest album, The 1st. In the interview, she candidly peels back her layers, revealing a Willow who is deeply curious about the world around her all while weaving a reality that is purely her own.
When asked about the inspiration behind her recently debuted single, "Romance," she dropped some very mature bars:
"The single really came about by me just thinking about the unrealistic ideals that women have about relationships, which are fed to us through the media, our parents, and our peers. As I am starting to grow up and experience more, I'm starting to realize how deep this illusion goes — and how strategic it has been catered to women, specifically."
The evolution of her sound, through the process of maturity and personal reflection is evident in her voice. In "Romance," a hauntingly brazen Willow bellows life into the thoughts of a teenage mind. The opening lyrics get straight to the point:
Romance doesn't exist
It's a hoax to trick your mind into thinking perfection exists
Or absence of suffering
Stop leading girls to the clouds above
It's so distracting
We can focus on self-love
When you're young, that first flutter of love can feel like a shot in the arm. Shocking, unstoppable, and sometimes - blinding. The focus on self, and the process of emotional work might be the only thing that keeps this generation of women grounded - especially in a society too tightly wrapped around material things and physical perfection. Can love survive in a world that's bombarded with bad vibes? Willow certainly thinks so.
The theme of self-love seems to be the focus of Willow's entire album. Lately, the sentiment of projecting love into oneself has been an ongoing theme in recent music from emerging artists. Willow explained to Refinery29 why self-love is such a vital part of her process:
“What I'm striving toward every day in my life is getting to an area of self-love so I can reflect that onto everyone that I come in contact with. I want to be a moving wand of healing where whoever I touch, whoever I see, whoever I meet, I heal."
For Willow, self-love trickles into every element of her life - including the shady parts. Even as an accomplished musician and heir to a Hollywood dynasty, she admits that she has humbling moments where she has to put her insecurities in check:
“[...]whenever I'm feeling my insecurity trying to latch onto someone else in an effort to try to make them feel insecure, I take a step back and think about how I really feel about that person. And every single time, the answer is that they inspire me, and they're amazing. When you take that time to analyze yourself and why you behave the way you do, you can start to understand other people better."
Willow is just like every other young woman journeying towards self-discovery and is certainly headed in the right direction if her latest project is any indicator.
With the change in weather willing us all to cuddle up and contemplate life's big questions, The 1st is the perfect slow ride into Winter. Listen now: