A very Mary album
Willow Smith is no longer the girl who just whips her hair back and forth. Sheâ€™s come a long way from her 2010 autotuned shenanigans. First off, if youâ€™ve seen Willowâ€™s social media, youâ€™ll notice that she doesnâ€™t seem quite like your typical celebrity spawn; sheâ€™s trying to understand the world beyond herself and see beyond the material, and her new album, â€ś3,â€ť definitely shows that.
Now before I jump into her new album, you should know that Willowâ€™s new style isnâ€™t a sudden 180Â° flip. Sheâ€™s been dropping singles and covers on her Soundcloud – which I highly recommend taking a listen to, especially her cover of King Kruleâ€™s â€śEasy Easyâ€ť – for a few years now, marking her development. Her tracks do pop up completely out of the blue, with no forewarning or pre-hype, just pure and simple RnB. Itâ€™s so refreshing to see how Willow makes music for the pure appreciation of music, spreading good vibes and good messages all around.
To start off, â€ś3â€ť is the deep grays and soft blues to â€śWhip My Hairâ€ťâ€™s neon pinks and yellows. The album is very laid back, a slow and hazy trip with Willow as she transcends through the present and the material. The three tracks are easy listening. With Willowâ€™s raw crooning backed up by a simple drumset and minimal use of a low synth, theyâ€™re easy to nod to and nod off with. But listen closely, and youâ€™ll hear a different message that Willow tries to get across.
The first track, â€ś8,â€ť sets the entire tone of the album. A soft call to action for people to see past the fame and material of celebrities, the song introduces her personal quest for truth and enlightenment. Itâ€™s strange to listen to a 14-year-old spread the message of achieving fulfillment by seeing past the material pleasures of fame and glamour, but Willow does this with a natural ease. With her wandering voice and almost-haphazard kick drum laying out a sauntering backdrop, youâ€™re mesmerized by her journey and gradual coming to terms with the world. Donâ€™t be fooled by the nonchalance with which she sings; her lyrics tell a whole different story of a struggle against fame and material wealth.
â€ś9â€ť is interesting because Willow brings in one of my favorite artists, SZA. Willow and SZAâ€™s voices are so similar sometimes that itâ€™s hard to tell between the two. The two paired together make a nice duo, with SZAâ€™s slightly more mature voice providing a soft contrast to Willowâ€™s, as if comparing a future Willow with the present one. â€ś9â€ť takes on a more personal story about young love. With a softer voice and higher vocals, Willow doesnâ€™t let us forget that sheâ€™s 14 and isnâ€™t afraid to be her age, sing of smoothies and picnics and embrace her youthhood. She doesnâ€™t seem in a rush to grow up, but by showing that she seems wiser beyond her years.
Her last song, â€śFlowers,â€ť is the catchiest of the three. Paired with a guitar, the song takes on a groovier vibe not explored in the previous two songs. The short track with a funky vibe that concludes â€ś3â€ť leaves me wishing there were more songs to listen to that showed the more upbeat side of her style. So if youâ€™re looking for some fresh new tracks to seriously wind down to, definitely give these tracks a spin and tell me you aren’t cocooned in a bundle of good vibes.
By Mary Zhang, Editor-in-chief