Willow Smith has followed in her mom Jada Pinkett Smith’s footsteps in more ways than one.
Many years ago, Willow launched her music career with an R&B-inspired sound, first on the hit 2010 single “Whip My Hair” and later on her albums through to 2019’s Willow. Things changed, though, on 2021’s Lately I Feel Everything, when Willow pursued a decidedly more rock- and pop-punk-oriented aesthetic. That shift worked out well for her: The album was her first to rank on the Billboard 200 chart and lead single “Transparent Soul” was her first song since 2011 to pop up on the Hot 100.
However, Willow says there was some hesitance about her stylistic pivot and she believes a big reason for it is her race.
In a new Glamour UK interview, she said:
“When I wanted to do a rock album, there were a lot of executives that were like, ‘Hmm.’ If I had been white, it would’ve been completely fine; but because I’m Black, it’s, ‘Well… maybe let’s just not,’ and making it harder than it needs to be. […] If I go through that, every single other Black artist is getting the pushback, [too].”
She also noted, “I love all different kinds of music, I don’t like to box myself into anything. I was trained to be an R&B singer so I went in that direction, but I’ve always had a huge affinity for rock music ever since I was just a wee bean.”
Read the full interview here.