willow smith won't quit; adds music producer to resumé

The hyper creative teen shared her latest production effort, ‘Afraid,’ this morning on Soundcloud.

by Emily Manning
19 November 2015, 5:43pm

Electric performer, Marc Jacobs mini-muse, and dedicated scholar of all things metaphysical, Willow Smith has jam packed her 15 years on Earth with all kinds of creative ambition. Most recently, the talented multi-hyphenate has been developing her production skills, dropping dynamic tracks on Soundcloud that toy with a diverse range of influences. Earlier today, Smith Tweeted the link to Afraid, a song produced in collaboration with Tyler Cole -- the same rapper featured in her hella trippy video Wit a Indigo.

Earlier this year, Willow released a super colorful video for summertime slammer FCQ 7. When the self-produced track premiered on The Fader, Smith told the outlet her sounds were inspired by the likes of Girlpool and Tune Yards. FCQ 7 is laced with xylophone strikes and super dance-y bass-drum hits, which definitely parallel Tune Yards' playful grooves. Two months ago, Willow uploaded another co-produced track called Whatislife, which threw a bit of funk hihats and basslines on top of that fun formula.

In contrast to these dance-inducing cuts, Afraid flexes a Girlpool muscle much harder -- especially the LA duo's plucky opening progressions on tracks like Before the World Was Big. But Willow leaves the upbeat punk sing-speak to the Girlpool ladies; her first Afraid lines are a bit more 22nd century Tracy Chapman. Willow delivers clearly enunciated lyrics like "This life that's full of war; Remember the love we shared when we did not care if our skin was fair or not -- if our pockets are deep or not" (before, in true Smith child fashion, expressing a profound fascination with atoms and trees). Cole then joins Willow for a punched up chorus before the track downshifts to a lo-fi electric guitar riff. Afraid ends with samples that appear to be lifted from the teachings of Osho, a new age spiritual thinker who often uploads talks to Youtube.

Despite pioneers like Missy Elliott and more recent powerhouses like Grimes and Nguzunguzu's Asma Maroof, there remains a dearth of female producers across the music industry. It's really dope to see someone so young dive headfirst into engineering -- and to have so much fun exploring such varied sounds. We're excited to see what Willow's got next, both in the booth and on the boards! 


Text Emily Manning
Photography Tyrone Lebon
Styling Julia Sarr-Jamois

Hair Marcia Hamilton at Fr8me using Mizani
Make-up Steven Aturo at The Only Agency using Laura Mercier
Nail technician Marisa Carmichael at streeters
Photography assistance William Mathieu, Steven Gabriel
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic, Roberta Hollis, Sophia Phonsavahn, Victoria Zengo
Tailor Brian Frank
Production Rosco Production
Production Holly Gore at Dobedo Productions
Willow wears Coat and dress Louis Vuitton. Socks stylist's own. Shoes TUK.

Willow Smith
tyler cole