After exploding onto the pop scene with 2010 mega-hit “Whip My Hair” at the tender age of 9 and signing a high-profile recording contract with rapper/mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s daughter has slowly revealed herself to be a genuinely talented artist, most recently with the Radiohead-sampling song, “Sugar and Spice.” Listen to it here.
Following “Whip My Hair” with equally glitzy 2011 pop tracks like “21st Century Girl” and “Fireball” (a collaboration with candy-haired rapstress Nicki Minaj), the young artist shocked fans by shaving her head and releasing the melancholy and introspective song, “I Am Me,” in July 2012.
The diminutive singer ( who turned 12 on Halloween 2012), has released an even moodier and highly personal new ballad, “Sugar and Spice,” which rides on a prominent sample of the piano hook in Radiohead song “Codex,” taken from the British art-rock icons’ most recent full-length, 2011’s King of Limbs.
“I try to be sugar and spice /But I’m melancholic, can’t do anything right,” Smith croons melodically over the Radiohead sample. “The monsters under my bed keep making noise and I just want silence, silence.” Another passage finds her singing, “inject my soul with darkness/And take my heart and go mark it,” while in the background a distorted female voice can be heard criticizing another girl as “ugly.”
Last month, the 12-year-old Smith released a cover version of Adele’s James Bond theme, “Skyfall,” ably accompanying herself on piano during the impressive rendition.
“When I first got into the entertainment industry, I would always watch Rihanna and all those people and think, ‘Ooh, I have to be this,” Willow Smith said in an interview last year. “My mom was like, ‘just be yourself.’ Just like two months ago, I gained confidence, and (realized) I can make my entertainment thing go wherever I want it go,” she added. “I (don’t have to) stay here and think, ‘I have to be this way.’”
Smith’s proposed full-length debut, tentatively titled Knees and Elbows, is still without a release date.
-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local