Smith was 10 years old when her single “Whip My Hair” hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and she toured with Justin Bieber, which she describes as “overwhelming but amazing.” She has since cut her whippable braids, but that wasn’t some teenage act of defiance. “Shaving my hair made my inner light grow and shine even more,” she says. “I really like who I’m evolving to be.” Music continues to be a go-to form of expression for the teenager who quietly posts woozy new electro jams to her SoundCloud account, and plans to tour this year. Despite the early fame and life in the spotlight, the daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith is surprisingly Zen. “When I’m happy and joyful about something, I’m like, ‘This is the beauty of life.’ When I’m crying and I’m sad about something, I’m like, ‘This is the beauty of life too.’ ”
Have your parents influenced your musical taste?
When I was younger, my brother and I toured with my mom’s band, Wicked Wisdom, so heavy metal was one of the first types of music I heard and I’m still really inspired by it. My mom listens to my playlists on Hype Machine all the time and I listen to hers — that’s how I found out about Radiohead.
What’s your approach in the studio?
We have one in our house and I don’t write before — I go in and do what comes naturally and don’t use any effects on my vocals. I feel like when you’re putting a lot of Auto-Tune on your voice, it’s like putting a cloud over true emotion.
How do you describe your style?
“High-fashion nomad.” I could literally climb a mountain and survive a couple nights in nature. That’s a requirement for my clothes. One day I was on the freeway and I saw a mountain, so I literally just pulled over and climbed it.