By Carina Cruz
Artist: Willow Smith
Album: The 1st
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Label: Interscope Records
The youngest of the Smith family, Willow Smith, released her second album titled The 1st. Flowing with versatility, the album sheds light on nature, growing up, love and pain. Consisting of an artistic expression that’s not only refreshing, but nostalgic, The 1st explores sounds from generations past with Willow’s voice creating a bridge of consistency. This sound, combined with lyrics that represent her young but perceptive character, create an album worthy of listening to.
In her opening track, “Boy,” Smith opens with: “Hey mom I met a boy/ he plays guitar” referencing teen infatuation. Even though this sounds exactly like what a seventeen year old would write in her journal, it definitely doesn’t lack sophistication. The start of a fast paced violin followed by plucking, creates a musical atmosphere where it feels like she’s igniting thought.
“‘Cause I come from a cluster of super bright stars/ And probably to him it feels scary to reach that far.” Willow is one to speak on issues of humanity and when listening to this romantic lyric, she depicts the values of self-worth. In “Human Leech” a rapid beat comes from the lead guitar and heavy drums, perfecting a darker and heavier song in the album. This heaviness is met with language of bitterness, almost like romantic poetic writers: “You are a human leech/ But you’re so good to me”.
Although it’s coined in the R&B/Hip Hop genre, the album goes through transformations, touching other forms like alt punk, alt-rock and pop rock. But again, it has the versatility such as in the song, “Warm Honey” which has a very funky alt sound to it. She still uses the electric guitar but there’s a lighter tone being played.
Going through normal things like anxiety, feelings of anger and growing up in a society where women are told to make themselves less than, Smith has the perfect attitude for a singer-songwriter. She sings about respecting our bodies and to remember we’re specks of dust. In the chorus of “Warm Honey,” she reflects, “but then I realize I don’t exist,” possibly referring to the fact that we’re insignificant compared to the universe around us. Again, a very 17-year old anxiety, but it’s a relatable thing to the listener who may be trying to get through a hard time, or simply can’t express the harsh ways of modern life.
Willow Smith understands that material things are just a construct. At a fairly young age she is able to express her emotions and questions authority. Almost like a diary, she spreads the idea of finding a valuable reason for life. This is such a creative and unique album that is so open and vulnerable. Smith uses her platform to reach an audience who will always be looking at her. This is relevant because in an age where we don’t really hear music about valuing ourselves as humans and respecting each other, The 1st touches on deep thoughts and showcases a very wise artist.