Willow Smith on Pushback Over a Rock Album: 'If I Had Been White, It Would've Been Completely Fine'

The 21-year-old released her rock album, 'Lately I Feel Everything.'

Willow Smith is speaking out against the pushback she received as a Black woman, after releasing her latest rock album, Lately I’ve Been Feeling Everything. In a new interview with Glamour UK, the 21-year-old musician shared her thoughts on the double standard.  

“When I wanted to do a rock album, there were a lot of executives that were like, ‘Hmm…’ she tells the publication. “If I had been white, it would’ve been completely fine; but because I’m Black it’s, ‘Well… maybe let’s just not’ – and making it harder than it needs to be.”

She adds, “If I go through that, every single other Black artist is getting the pushback [too].” 

Willow shared that being a Black woman in the rock music space and receiving hate is not a surprise -- as she witnessed her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, go through it as the leader singer of the metal band, Wicked Wisdom.  

“Oh, my goodness. She was getting death threats. It was a crazy amount of stuff going on,” the "Meet Me at Our Spot" singer says about her mother’s backlash.  

Thom Kerr

“I remember being like, ‘Yo! People are really upset about this, they’re mad that a Black woman wants to do metal and is in the space,” she says before adding, “Like that was activism.” 

The hate that Jada received didn’t discourage Willow. In fact, after witnessing her mother play Ozzfest, the “Transparent Soul” singer said she was inspired to join the rock scene.  

“That was my first experience with music touring. And just watching her as a Black woman in this crazy metal scene. I was like, ‘Hell, yeah!’ I loved it,” she says.  

Willow didn’t always perform rock music. But after pushing herself outside of her comfort zone, she was ready to commit. 

Thom Kerr

“I love all different kinds of music, I don’t like to box myself into anything,” she tells the magazine. “I was trained to be an R&B singer so I went in that direction. But I’ve always had a huge affinity for rock music ever since I was just a wee bean.” 

The Red Table Talk host urges other Black people to take the same risk saying that the key is for, “People of color, women and all marginalized communities [to] step out of the boxes that society wants to put us in. Not even just in music, but in every part of our lives – that’s the special sauce.” 

For Willow, that is part of the way a change in the music industry and Hollywood can be made.  

“For a long time, women have been looked at and expected to be in these boxes. It’s up to the people who have been a part of the oppressing, but it’s also up to us to step out of that. That’s scary, and it’s sometimes dangerous,” she says.  

“We need to make better spaces for each other and stop expecting other people to make spaces for us," she adds. "We need to start holding our sisters, and start listening to each other the way that we wish other people would.” 



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