"It's very, very amazing and it's very overwhelming," Willow said of her budding career (she also complained about math homework and said she's a huge fan of Billy Idol, then burst into a few bars of "Rebel Yell"). She explained how "Whip My Hair" is a self-empowerment anthem: "It means just be an individual - you can't be afraid to be yourself," she said. "You have to be yourself and you can't let anybody tell you that that's wrong. My mom and me are very strong individuals. Lots of people don't act like themselves, so they're not happy."
Jay-Z phoned Seacrest to say he was blown away by Willow's maturity andhonesty when they met, but the first thing that caught his attentionwas simply the track. "I heard the record first before I knew that itwas recorded by a 9-year-old, and I was like, man, that record's asmash," he said. "She has a child's innocence but she has a clearvision of what she wants and who she wants to be," he added, comparingher to some of the most acclaimed child stars of all time. "When youhave that sort of talent and that sort of vision, there's no such thingas too young. We all danced to Michael Jackson records when he waseight, [and] Stevie Wonder started at eight."
During a July appearance on George Lopez's talk show, Pinkett Smith revealed Willow's interest in music and announced that an LP is on the way. "Let me tell you - I mean, she's 9 years old, I don't know where that voice came from," she said. "She sings like she's a grown woman, like she's been around."
Pre-tween Willow certainly sounds like a girl of the world with swagger to spare. "Whip My Hair" comes with a schoolyard-chant hook that's tailor-made for a dance craze ("I whip my hair back and forth," she shouts, occasionally throwing in a bizarre nod to Devo: "Whip it real good") and finger-wagging verses that could have been nicked from a Beyoncé track.
In a voice far more mature than her 9 years -- perhaps aided by the powers of the studio -- she sings about ignoring haters and keeping positive, tossing in a few lyrics about her own skills on the mic: "I'm gonna get more shine in a little bit/Soon as I hit the stage, applause, I'm hearing it," she sings. "Whip My Hair" was produced by Jukebox; Willow is shooting a video for the song later this month in L.A. The record label released a promo photo on Thursday, which depicts a stylish, sunglass-wearing Willow sitting atop a boom box, urban landscape behind her in the distance.
Within hours of officially announcing her recording debut, Roc Nation had already launched a Web site dedicated to their latest darling. The site, WillowSmith.com, is pretty spare, featuring little more than a widget that plays "Whip My Hair" and a closeup photo of what can only be Willow's eyes.
She has already locked down one famous fan: "WIllow Smith make me wanna whip some haiiirrr in this house," Solange Knowles tweeted. "Ummm kill em girl. Kill em!"
[Photos: Willow Smith's wild wardrobe]
If "Whip My Hair" takes off, both Willow and her brother Jaden could have hit songs before their 13th birthdays. Jaden, 12, made an appearance alongside Justin Bieber -- who at 16 seems ancient by comparison -- on "Never Say Never," from the soundtrack of the young actor's smash remake of "The Karate Kid." In a squeaky voice far more kid-like than his sister's, Jaden rapped, "No pun intended, was raised by the power of Will ... I was born from two stars, so the moon's where I land." The track peaked at number 33 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart.
Willow's résumé also includes a role in "I Am Legend" and voice-over work in "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," which she promoted on the "Today" show alongside her mom in 2009. By diving into the music industry, both Smith kids are following in their parents' footsteps. Since 2003, Pinkett Smith has been the front-woman for Wicked Wisdom, what she describes as a "melodic metal" band that has opened for Britney Spears and toured on the second stage at Ozzfest. Will Smith hasn't released an album since 2005's "Lost and Found," but his career famously began in hip-hop. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's 1988 album "He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper" went triple platinum thanks to the megahit "Parents Just Don't Understand," and the track earned the group a Grammy -- the first ever given out -- for Best Rap Performance.
[Backstage photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage]
[Promo photo: Alan Silfen]
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