Willow Smith introduces her own style with album “The First”

Screenshot of 'The 1st' album on Spotify.

Screenshot of 'The 1st' album on Spotify.

Tyler Cole

Tyler Cole

Screenshot of 'The 1st' album on Spotify.

Brooke Schuessler, Staff Writer

Willow Smith, more recently known as just Willow, released her first full-length album since winter of 2015. “The 1st” was inspired by hate, love, fear, anxiety and everything in between. Willow, 17, has lived her life in “a cluster of super bright stars “ as she said in her song “Boy”. Her sound seems to be a mix of some alternative, indie, and old R&B love songs. The album is mature for a 17-year-old. She talks about issues most don’t and isn’t afraid to tell the world her honest opinion. Willow took a risk in creating such a powerful album at such a young age.

I’ve been a fan of Willow since her old pop-styled songs, like “Whip My Hair” and “21st Century Girl”. “The 1st” is different than her older music. You can definitely hear her story and passion in this album. Since she wrote this album from her own feelings, not something written for her.

Leading off the album is a sweet sensible song about a boy. In “Boy”, Willow uses words like ‘wack’ to explain love with a sad boy who likes Quentin Tarantino. This song has low constant guitar sounds to back up the lyrics. “Boy” is definitely in the running for my favorite song – not just on the album, but so far this year. “Cause down on Earth there’s so much pain/And way up here there are galaxies” is one my favorite lines. She is saying how she’s filled with pain and anxiety, but around him, she feels better and like she’s left the earth.“Boy” has a strict, repeated guitar riff that goes throughout the whole song. I recommend this song for passionate lovers and deeply confused lovers alike.

The second song on the album is further down on my list of favorites. It most certainly isn’t a bad song, but it is completely instrumental, that’s not what I enjoy unless I’m in the mood for it. Titled “An Awkward Life Of An Awkward Girl”, this is still a beautifully put together song, composed by Simi & Haze. If you are in the mood for a minute and 45-second instrumental piece “An Awkward Life Of An Awkward Girl” is perfect for you.

“And Contentment” is a slap in the face of truth for me. It’s about how all your happiness is led by a person and that is you. Willow quotes the words “baby girl” over and over as if she’s talking to you intensely and passionately – like she whispering the secrets to the world in your ear. “There’s so much love in your eyes/So, baby girl/Don’t let ’em turn it into ice” is by far my favorite line from the song. This line sounds to me like you shouldn’t let anyone change who you are and that you should keep loving no matter what. With a soft toned melody and intense ending, this is a great song to connect to, as well as to jam to in the shower.

Filled with classic hums, ho and oh’s. “Ho’ ihi Interlude” is the perfect calming pause for the intense feeling of an album. This song is very alien-like, featuring talk of feeling a “sensation that is real” and talk of extraterrestrial life and the quoted “energy with synergies”. I believe this song is a way of explaining the difference between this album against everything else. I personally don’t love this song. I see it as a boring pause in a tornado of emotion. It brings down the hype this album is given. On the other hand, it is a good chill song and a good one to fall asleep listening to.

“Israel” is the song that really confuses me. I can’t seem to figure out what it means to me, in my own life. The reason it’s being included in this specific album doesn’t make sense to me either. Maybe that was just the point. Throughout this song, there is long note holds, basic strums on a guitar and soft voices filling the song. In the line “Oh, Israel/Please finish your story” she holds out the name Israel and it sounds like she’s saying “is it real?” This one racks my brain and all I know is that it’s beautiful and can calm me down and get me in a really relaxed, and confused, mood.

“Oh No!!!”, song six is rush of emotions. A deep, heart pounding bass fills the song with frustration. Willow is trying to take control of her own heartbreak in this song, but soon realizes she can’t. “Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no/Feeling like I’m falling/Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no/Why can’t I control it?”, Willow sings. She talks about love like it’s something she can’t get rid of, singing: “being in love is like a rollercoaster/Unbuckle my seat, please”. She wants to get away from her situation and continually says, “baby, just let me go, go”. I recommend this song for anyone who has been through a heartbreak and can’t seem to let go of this love, no matter how scary it was to be in.

Willow is on a journey to open her mind. I believe this is yet another one of my favorite songs by her, “Warm Honey”. With lines like “But then I realized I don’t exist” and “Light beams in the sky speaking to my third eye/Speaking through my third eye,” it’s easy to hear. I think this song is meant to be her trying to find herself and her strength. The strong Indie vibes this song gives makes it perfect for a car ride, to help you clean your room a little faster. Just chill out and let this song help you find yourself and just vibe to it. It’s more of a relaxation song. I think that’s why I like it so much.

Most people have had that one person, that just gets under your skin and you feel like they suck everything out of you. If you are one of those people, “Human Leech” is a song for you. This song is cover in spite and anger, it can be heard it the background cords and the tone of her voice. Willow changes her voice n this song, instead of being light and concerning, it is more so agitated and aggravated. Being with someone who takes all of you but is still there and you can’t seem to get rid of them, Is what I think Willow is talking about. “You are a human leech But you’re so good to me” is a repeated line throughout the whole song, like the hook. There is even a part where she talks about how she cannot be controlled by them, they are controlled by her. My favorite line in this song is “I’m not obsessed with the idea of love, I am love”. Which is see as I don’t need you to grow and be loved but you need me, for you to be in love. Kinda like how a leech can’t grow unless it is attached to a something.

Alone, doing it all alone. Is a big idea in the next song, “Lonely Road”. This one is definitely one of those songs that has a different meaning for each person. As well as a different vibe. “Lonely Road”, is a short two and a half minute song with beautiful meaning. All throughout the song, Willow says things like “see the world through divine eyes” and how “Me and you see different sides of the moon”. What I got from this was she knows she will end up being alone so why bother with something else. Especially if that something is different from you. I love this song for its constant melody and soft-spoken lyrics. I listen to this long as I stress and do homework. It always seems to make me feel empowered and like I can do anything. By myself, of course.

“A Reason”, is song 10 in “The First”. Also, I feel like this song is the base for the whole album. What is the reason for being alive? What’s the reason for this album? What is the reason behind why we do anything? A question everything bop is what this song is.  Willow even says “ There has to be a reason I’m alive/There has to be a reason that I cry /And as I walk these roads throughout my life I find the subtle reasons” to show how she is trying to figure out her own reason every day. By learning what she has to and by questioning everything around her. Willow also makes a claim that gratitude is her biggest help and her reason for a lot. She also says that people tend to create their own reasons and do what they do for those reasons.

Concluding The First is a four-minute song about love, imagination, and other human feelings. The very first line of this song, “Romance”, contradicts some of her other songs throughout the album “Romance doesn’t exist/It’s a hoax to trick your mind into thinking perfection exists”. What I got from that line particularly was, this is what she found out about love. Other songs hold hope that romance is true it’s powerful but, by the end, she realizes it’s unneeded and gives up that hope.  Soft, light and calm is how “Romance” starts off. Towards the end, the romance turns into hate, rape, freedom, murder, equality, slavery and morality. Through this section, the music gets louder and Willows vocals get more aggressive and passive This song is definitely not for everyone, it talks about some deep topics and gets very intense. This song though is a good one to get out frustration and have something raw and passionate to connect to. In the last few lines, you can hear talk of feminism, racial equality and some overall “political” ideas.  Even with all that I felt powerful listening to it and like I can do anything I put my mind to. Even if I don’t fully believe myself someone does, and I should exercise all my freedoms.

This album stays on a constant repeat in my headphones. If you ever see me with headphones in you better believe I’m blasting “The 1st” at full volume.    I came up with my own assumptions and meanings behind this album. But I really wanted to see Willows views and why she wrote this particular album and this sound. So, I did some digging and found that in an interview with rolling stone Willow said.

“It’s the first time I’ve put myself in these musical situations that I’ve never experienced and also these human social situations I’ve never experienced. Relating to people, in a way that’s what not we’re taught. We’re taught that love, when you’re younger, is caring for somebody and wanting their presence around you. As you start growing up, you’re like, “Dang, that person can possess you.” Me doing this album was me realizing my own craving for other people or certain reactions … I realized that freedom is love. Real love is giving someone 100 percent freedom. The 1st is me realizing not what love truly is, but getting closer to that [realization].”

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Willow Smith introduces her own style with album “The First”