Willow Smith Releases New Album ‘The 1st’ for Her 17th Birthday

Happy birthday Willow Smith! Our little sister in all of our heads is 17 years old today and to commemorate the auspicious occasion, she has released her sophomore album, The 1st. In doing so, Smith is experimenting with a new sound – a more stripped-down version of her craft, that differs greatly from her debut Ardipithecus, which she dropped two years ago.

The 1st is an 11-track album and although the singer/songwriter is known to let her music write itself (freestyling is the name of the game), she allowed her creativity to guide her on a completely different journey this time around.

She told Refinery29, “This album is the first step into my diving 100 percent into my musicality. For my last album, I spent a lot of time on the computer producing, so this time, I was learning the guitar as I created the album and focused more on composing and instrumentation. I was seeking the answer to the question, ‘Who am I as an artist, really?’ I’m so excited for people to hear what’s in my heart.”

With vocals that are reminiscent of a young Fiona Apple meets Alanis Morissette, Smith has a voice that is captivating and interesting sonically, which further adds depth to her airy, sometimes philosophical lyrics. A couple of days before the release of her album, Smith gave listeners a taste of what was to come by dropping the poignant and opinionated feminist single “Romance,” which acted as a preview of what was to come and be expected.

“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,” Smith said. “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.”

“I want people to take away that you have to allow yourself to not be you in order to find you. Through making this album, I had so many emotions and did so many things that I never thought I would do. And then I started condemning myself for that. But berating yourself and trying to fit yourself into a box just gives you less clarity. You have to let yourself grow up.”

The Smith kids are going to really busy in the coming months. Starting November 14, Willow is headed on tour with Jhene Aiko as an opening act to support her project The Trip. On November 17, her older brother Jaden will drop his debut studio project SYRE.

Her album, The 1st, is available for purchase and on all streaming platforms. Listen to it here.

Also be sure to check out her full interview with Refinery29.

Photo Credit: MSFTSMusic/Roc Nation

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.