To the Ozzfest fans who made it clear they were angry about Wicked Wisdom being on this year’s bill: The band got your memo. Vocalist Jada Pinkett Smith and guitarist Pocket knew the gig would be tough before it was announced in May that they’d play Ozzfest’s second stage.
Quickly, fans that doubted Wicked Wisdom’s credibility (the band opened Britney Spears’ Onyx Hotel tour and didn’t play hard rock) posted their dismay on the tour’s message board. Pinkett Smith was shocked herself when Sharon Osbourne invited the band onto the tour, so she wasn’t surprised when other people were too.
“It’s who I am, who people believe that I am,” she tells Billboard.com. “It’s like, of course it would seem really bizarre and awkward and just completely out of line and out of place, so people come in with preconceived ideas because unfortunately we’re all taught to think so limitedly. Even myself, even when I got the invite, I wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to do Ozzfest. I had to really open my mind, and I’m glad I did.”
Wicked Wisdom is also aware of the credibility factor it is dealing with. “I’m not here asking for any favors,” Pinkett Smith says. “You’ve got to show and prove. And not every audience is gonna go for it.” The group’s music has evolved since the Spears tour into a sound that Pocket describes as “heavy and melodic,” with elements similar to bands like Skindred, Otep, Seether and Evanescence.
Smith, who is married to actor/rapper Will Smith, has put her movie career on indefinite hold for Wicked Wisdom. She says she likes a wide variety of music — from Bob Marley and Santana to Megadeth and Metallica — but when Pocket turned her on to Sevendust, Slipknot and Meshugga, she found the sound she wanted. “I just love the freedom of metal music,” she says. “It’s not confined, really. You can express your joy, your pain, your anger and everything, so the passion of it is what attracts me the most.”
Despite the occasional booing, Wicked Wisdom has made inroads as Ozzfest has progressed. “Everybody gets along with each other,” Pocket says. “Everyone shows up for each other’s show when they can when they’re not signing autographs, and they support each other. And I think fans need to see that more and more … when you [watch] people support other people, that can carry over to our families.”