Track Review

What do you get when two gorgeous, talented stars marry and have children? Willow Smith—decked out in all her precocious attitude and sleek-but-eccentric head-turning garb.

Daughter of Hollywood heavy hitters Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow, following in the footsteps of her older brother, Jaden (who recently stared in The Karate Kid), is making her mass-market debut by "whipping" the airwaves with her first single, "Whip My Hair."

It's a drum-driven, electro-pop track that encourages listeners to be themselves and, well, whip their hair. Talking to Ryan Seacrest, Willow says it means you should "just be an individual. Like, you can't be afraid to be yourself, you have to be yourself, and you can't let anyone tell you that that's wrong." The sassy new star snapped her fingers while telling Ellen DeGeneres that the phrase is "basically the new 'I'm me.' I'm me, I'm doin' what I wanna do."

Specifically, Willow sings, "Hop up out the bed turn my swag on/Pay no attention to them haters because we whip 'em off/And we ain't doing nothing wrong, so don't tell me nothing/I'm just tryna have fun, so keep the party jumping." She also mentions the adoration she expects to accumulate when she steps on the stage ("Soon as I hit the stage/Applause I'm hearing it/Whether it's black stars, black hearts/I'm feeling it/But can't none of them whip it like I do").

Combining those lyrics with an "I (Heart) Me" T-shirt, amped up Nick-style dance moves and the "W" finger gesture (for "whatever") Willow sports in her video, one might justifiably wonder if this catchy (to the point of annoyance) little single points to budding narcissism and self-absorption as much as it does to self-assurance.

In other words, Willow's 10 going on 19 here, and she has the chops to prove it. She's already being dubbed "Baby Rihanna" due to her powerful, older-than-her-years pipes.

Still, this song does offer encouragement and solidarity to kids who feel different. Believing in yourself is a good thing, and Willow encourages listeners to cultivate confidence and self-assurance. "Don't let haters keep me off my grind," she sings. "Keep my head up I know I'll be fine/Keep fighting until I get there/When I'm down and I feel like giving up I think again."

In the video, pledges written on a chalkboard add even more positivity: "I pledge to be brave. I pledge to always give my best. I pledge to respect myself and all those around me. I pledge to be willing to learn and experience new things. I pledge to not be afraid to dream big and go for it. I pledge to be a WARRIORETTE/WARRIOR."

Regarding that last pledge, Willow told MTV, "It takes a warrior to stand up for themselves and not let anybody tell them that what they're wearing or what they're saying or what they're doing is wrong."

Good stuff … as long as what someone says or does is actually good. If it's taken as license to glorify your failures and missteps just 'cause they're part of what makes you you, that's a whole different matter.

Time will tell which Willow grows to believe is true.

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Peaked at No. 11 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Record Label

Roc Nation




September 21, 2010

On Video

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Meredith Whitmore