A very Mary album

Willow Smith is no longer the girl who just whips her hair back and forth. She’s come a long way from her 2010 autotuned shenanigans. First off, if you’ve seen Willow’s social media, you’ll notice that she doesn’t seem quite like your typical celebrity spawn; she’s trying to understand the world beyond herself and see beyond the material, and her new album, “3,” definitely shows that.

Now before I jump into her new album, you should know that Willow’s new style isn’t a sudden 180° flip. She’s been dropping singles and covers on her Soundcloud – which I highly recommend taking a listen to, especially her cover of King Krule’s “Easy Easy” – 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. It’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, “3” is the deep grays and soft blues to “Whip My Hair”’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 Willow’s raw crooning backed up by a simple drumset and minimal use of a low synth, they’re easy to nod to and nod off with. But listen closely, and you’ll hear a different message that Willow tries to get across.

The first track, “8,” 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. It’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, you’re mesmerized by her journey and gradual coming to terms with the world. Don’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.

“9” is interesting because Willow brings in one of my favorite artists, SZA. Willow and SZA’s voices are so similar sometimes that it’s hard to tell between the two. The two paired together make a nice duo, with SZA’s slightly more mature voice providing a soft contrast to Willow’s, as if comparing a future Willow with the present one. “9” takes on a more personal story about young love. With a softer voice and higher vocals, Willow doesn’t let us forget that she’s 14 and isn’t afraid to be her age, sing of smoothies and picnics and embrace her youthhood. She doesn’t seem in a rush to grow up, but by showing that she seems wiser beyond her years.

Her last song, “Flowers,” 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 “3” leaves me wishing there were more songs to listen to that showed the more upbeat side of her style. So if you’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

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