Entirely written and produced on her own, Willow Smith, the ‘Fresh Princess’ that brought you “Whip My Hair,” debuts her first full-length album, “Ardipithecus.” A reference to Ardipithecus Ramidus, the oldest homonid bones on earth, the album serves as a musical journal, chronicling thoughts and feelings unearthed from the teenage experience. With appearances from her older brother Trey Smith (aka AcE) and JABS on tracks “Not So Different” and “Star”, the album is far and away from the crunk jam of yesteryear.
Known for being the only daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, she garnered some controversial buzz on her own for the 2011 single “Whip My Hair,” that charted 11th on the Billboard’s Top 100 List when Smith was only eleven. Now age fifteen, “Ardipithecus” contains an innocent, youthful wisdom that substantiates the next generation may not be all iPhone-isolation and dystopian complacency. Deemed “chakra-pop,” “Ardipithecus” allows the listener a passive view into the development of Smith’s ideology as she grows into womanhood. “I’m just a teenager, but I feel angrier than a swarm of hornets,” opens the five-minute syrupy, free-flowing hip-hop track, “Organization & Classification,” which details both self-discovery and exploration of the natural world.
Tracks like, “Not So Different” allude to bigotry and sexism with an elegance for the peripheral that is far beyond her years. “So you run to your roots,” marks the breakdown of the minimally percussive track, implying that differences in worldly perspective are caused by sheltering oneself in what’s comfortable and familiar. “Natives of the Windy Forest” and “Not So Different” reveal Smith’s own musical affinity, drawing heavily from afrobeat, she composes a modern balance of rhythmic chants, funky bass, xylophone, tribal conga and whimsical lyrical metaphor cloaked by nature-related imagery. Even including an allusion to Adventure Time’s Marceline in a synth-heavy two-parter, “Ardipithecus” is a solid ethereal pop album with a fun-loving perspective and smart lyrics that reminds us of seeing the world with fresh eyes and finding our place with the purest of intentions.
Image via Willow Smith.