Willow "The 1st" Album Review

Written by Camille Sery-Ble


When I heard Willow Smith came out with an album earlier this month, I was not super optimistic about the context, but I was interested. I have heard some songs that I have liked, and I have also heard songs that I was not particularly fond to. With a sound similar to FKA Twigs and Lorde and it’s ability to convey a relatable message, the only thing I expected was individuality. In Willow’s most recent album, The 1st, I was expecting more originality and flare to distinguish her from others with a similar sound.

I come from a hip-hop and R&B background, so when I listen to alternative music I want to hear an artist’s individual flare in the music that they produce. I was first attracted to Willow’s sound from one of her most popular songs, Wait a Minute! which was featured in her previous album ARDIPITHECUS. With Wait a Minute! being my only real reference to her as an artist, I was expecting something a little different when I heard her newest album.

If you enjoy the sound of smooth acoustics, violin, with a mix of indie rock music -- you will be a fan of this album. Some sources will classify Willow’s music as Alternative R&B, but in this album her sound and the acoustics resonates in the rock category. Think, Urban Outfitters. However, she is the daughter of one of the most iconic African American couples in Hollywood, Will and Jada Smith, and her career began from a Hip-Hop track, Whip My Hair. So, I do understand why it is hard not to categorize her singing as R&B.

There are songs that I did enjoy, including Warm Honey and Lonely Road. Warm Honey “could” be considered Alternative R&B with a rocking flare. In Lonely Road, her second verse reminds me of Lemonade Beyonce, which is why I was attracted to it.

Overall, I love seeing black artists claiming rock and roll. One of my favorite artists, Vic Mensa, uses his lyrical gifts in rap to propel his mission to “reclaim” rock and roll. Willow Smith, on the other hand, has claimed it, but, has she reclaimed it for herself? As a growing and developing artist I think that Willow can make her sound more individual, as she has enough talent to reclaim the face of rock and roll.

Listen to "The 1st":

Listen to our "Energized by Willow" Playlist:

Edited by Danielle Germain