When Willow Smith stepped onto the stage at FADER FORT last month, she appeared to be nothing like the adorable nine-year-old girl who captivated America for a couple of seasons in 2010 with the contagious, carefree jam “Whip My Hair.” Of course, half a decade to a kid is like dog years for grown-ass adults. But this Willow exuded a sense of self atypical for a teenager. She sported a black turtleneck and natural hair barely long enough to twist, much less whip. And then she opened her mouth. Out poured these beautiful melodies and enlightened words, as the Roc Nation starlet treated the Williamsburg, Brooklyn audience to an advance performance of songs from her pensive EP III (out now). She was as comfortable as Crocs on that stage, singing and dancing like she were solo dolo in the small Converse Rubber Tracks venue.
The existential song content, Erykah Badu-gleaned vibes, poise and authentic swagger all seemed unfit for someone 11 years Chris Brown’s junior. Special guest SZA, who came out to perform their duet “9,” actually had to jog the crowd’s memory. “She’s 13, I want to remind you,” the TDE singer said, exiting the stage. “She’s literally the future.”
Jezebel staff writer (and former VIBE editor) Clover Hope has delivered possibly the most precise assessment on Willow’s sage songwriting: “She’s either 13 and knows nothing about heartbreak, or she’s really 73 and knows everything about heartbreak.” Valid point. Even in it’s barely 10-minute run time, III exhibits a maturity at least twice the age of Will and Jada’s youngest, who (allegedly) turned 14 on Halloween. It’s left us with one conclusion, which after repeating out loud enough times seems totally obvi: She’s pulling that old reversing-the-digits-in-her-age trick. The jig is up, Willow!
Willow and Jaden Smith are weirdly grown/enlightened for a couple of teenagers. They got that Benjamin Button.
— John Kennedy (@youngJFK) October 25, 2014
That’s right, you heard it here first: Willow Smith is really 41 years old. And while we wait on a birth certificate to confirm our left-field theory, we present exhibits A through N—14 of Willow’s wise-beyond-her-years (or just plain inscrutable) lyrics that prove she just might have real-life Benjamin Button syndrome. —John Kennedy
1. “The bright sun and the blue water/We fight less and love harder/You telling me that I’m the one/I tell you it’s just for fun/We walk the beach at midnight/And watch the stars and the clear skies/We both say ‘I love you’/But it’s alright” —“Summer Fling”
2. “You got me tired of this, love thing it’s tough cause I, want to love you but you, keep being so… afraid, afraid” —”9″
3. “Days pass trying to find who I really am/I’ve been looking, people don’t like the way I dress, so am I mad?/I’ve been looking, I dyed my hair, and it’s not just vanity/I’ve been looking your validation, is just not that important to me” —“I Am Me”
4. “You’re hearing my heart and you’re risking your life/Is love deep? I can see in the sky/Cause we’re going together, we’re going so high” —”Your Love v2″
5. “All she ever did was pick at the scars that he left her, on her heart” —”Drowning”
6. “Who are you?/Who am I?/Who am I?/Where is me?/Where is I?/There’s no ‘I’/It’s just all” —”8″
7. “I don’t play no more/I’m not a kid no more/I’ve did some things, that you can see, that I’ve been gone away, that I have room to be whom I want to be/And you don’t even talk to me” —”9″
8. “My heart aches when I see your face, that’s the story of this life/but my soul saw it twice/Never had a problem but my soul seems to fight/through the artifice of life” —”Flowers”
9. “Your subconscious is not conscious/To the poison your ingesting” —”8″
10. “You’re you, I am me/Lets live in harmony/Coexist with each other/Love each other/Be yourself/You have to be yourself/Be real, be honest/Cause ain’t nobody got time for that” —”I Am Me”
11. “You’ve got the touch baby cause you’re the one/I can taste the smoke rollin’ off your lips/I inhale, see the stars and then I smell your kiss/Show me, show me your galaxy” —”5″
12. “And she was drowning in the middle of his ocean/She loved him, she was drowning/He drowned her in her sorrows/But he’s scared to love another/But he drowned her/And he’s staring at her body in the river of eternal love” —”Drowning”
13. “Take the money, take the fame, all I want is truth/You talk their language, play their games, act as they want to/Look at you/Look at you/Who are you?/Who are you?” —”8″
14. “If my red eyes don’t see you anymore, and I can’t hear you through the white noise/Just enjoy how deep our love/To the blue ocean floor/Where they find us no more/On the blue ocean floor, on the blue ocean…” —”Blue Ocean”