Willow Smith, 9, signs record deal with Jay-Z

Thu Sep 9, 2010 2:12pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Willow Smith, the nine-year-old daughter of actor Will Smith, has signed a record deal with rapper Jay-Z and her first single is already kicking up a storm on the Internet.

Jay-Z told radio host Ryan Seacrest in an interview on Thursday that he thought Willow had a superstar career in front of her based on her first hip-hop single "Whip My Hair."

"I heard the record first before I knew that it was recorded by a nine year old and I was like, man that record's a smash," the performer and record producer told Seacrest. "I believe in superstars. I believe on big records on superstars and I think she has both."

"Whip My Hair" had been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube after just a day of being released.

"She has a child's innocence but she has a clear vision of who she is and who she wants to be," Jay-Z said, comparing Willow to a young Michael Jackson.

Jay-Z's record label Roc Nation said in a statement that Willow "has an energy and enthusiasm about her music that is truly infectious...Willow is about to embark on an incredible journey and we look forward to joining her as she grows in all aspects of her career."

Jay-Z, one of the most influential artists in the U.S. music industry, signed R&B artist Rihanna when she was a teenager. Willow's distinctive lop-sided hair cut and debut single have both been compared to Rihanna's.

Jay-Z brushed aside suggestions that Willow may be too young at nine years old to launch a music career.

"When you have that sort of talent, there is no such thing as too young," he said on Thursday.

Willow, the daughter of "Men in Black" actor Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, follows her brother Jaden in an early start to a high profile career. Jaden Smith, 12, starred in the movie "The Karate Kid" earlier this year.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney)

<p>Willow, daughter of actor and producer Will Smith, poses at the Japanese premiere of "The Karate Kid" in Tokyo August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>