Willow Got Real About The Racism She's Faced As A Black Rock Musician
"Being a Black woman in the metal crowd is very, very different."
Being a Black woman in music already comes with unique obstacles, like racism and misogynoir. But being a Black woman musician in a music space not traditionally recognized as “Black” is even *more* difficult. Not only are Black artists often pigeonholed into genres like hip-hop and R&B (even when they create music way outside of those boxes), but when they do overcome mislabeling, they’re overlooked in favor of white artists. In recent interviews, Willow Smith’s quotes about being a Black woman in rock shine a light on the issues Black female artists experience.
Despite only having two pop-punk bops so far under her studded belt — “Transparent Soul” (featuring certified punk icon Travis Barker) and “Lipstick,” which was released on June 25 — 20-year-old Smith is already turning into Gen Z’s very own Avril Lavigne. July 16 will mark the release of her fourth album, Lately I Feel Everything, which is slated to be an entire collection of punk-inspired music that Smith has been eager to embrace.
“I just wanted to let loose with this album,” she said in a statement upon the album’s announcement, noting the project will embody a “new energy” unlike her previous releases. However, Smith wasn’t always confident about pursuing her punk dreams — leading up to Lately I Feel Everything’s release, the “Wait a Minute!” singer-songwriter opened up about her experiences with perceptions of what a Black girl should be or listen to.
“Being a Black woman in the metal crowd is very, very different on top of the pressures that the music industry puts on you,” she told V in early June. “Now, it's like an added pressure of the metal culture, the metal world, and just rock in general. I used to get bullied in school for listening to Paramore and My Chemical Romance.”
Willow also recently said in an interview with L'Officiel that she’s been wanting to “fulfill that desire” to be “a Black woman singing rock music” since she was a tween (pretty bad*ss, if you ask me). Today, she stands in solidarity with other Black girls who love rock: “You’re not alone,” she said to V.
“Through the music that I'm putting out right now and the representation that I can bring to the mix, I just hope that the Black girls who are listening to my music and listening to this album see that there's more of us out there,” she said. “You're not the only Black girl who wishes she could flip her hair to the side, and wear black eyeliner, you know what I mean?”
Facts. Hopefully Smith’s music reaches the Black women and girls who need it most!