"Whip My Hair" is a high-tempo R&B-hip-hop piece incorporating dance-pop and crunk, with funk and disco influences. The song is said to be composed in an "eclectic" style, and makes use of heavy synthesizers and drums. Smith's vocals are auto-tuned in some parts, while containing keyboard washes over a drum-heavy beat described as "propulsive" and "futuristic". The song features a knocking beat, including the vocal refrain of "I whip my hair back and forth". Some critics have compared the song heavily to Smith's musical influence Rihanna. Additionally, others said the song was similar to the style of Rihanna contemporaries Ciara and Keri Hilson, with a hip hop feel similar to Lil Mama. Gina Serpe of E! Online called the track a fourth-grade version of Rihanna and Hilson.
Lyrically the song is about letting loose, having fun and being full of swagger, while she asks ladies to "whip their hair" and "shake haters off". The lyrics have motivational undertones, speaking of self-love and assurance, and referring to letting your hair down as a representation of this in parts like the line, "Keep fighting until I get there, when I'm down and I feel like giving up/I whip my hair back and forth, I whip it, I whip it real good."
Rumor spread online that rapper Jay-Z, who also introduced Rihanna, was prepping to sign Smith to his Columbia imprint, Roc Nation. Two days after the song's surfacing, Smith, her mother, and Jay-Z appeared on On Air with Ryan Seacrest confirming that Smith had signed with Roc Nation. Jay-Z also released a statement, calling the young singer a "superstar", welcoming her to the Roc Nation family. The rapper called the song a hit, revealing that the record was presented to him without knowing of her age or parentage. He was enthused after learning the whole story, saying "everything went from there". The rapper and singer first met in Japan when she was traveling with her family promoting her brother Jaden Smith's film, The Karate Kid. At that moment, Jay-Z said, he knew she was a star, commenting, "I believe in superstars. I believe in big records and superstars, and I think she has both." He went on to compare Smith to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, who both started their music careers at the age of eight and had broad appeal. Jay-Z called her "a wealth of ideas", who "has child innocence but she has a clear vision of what she wants and who she wants to be". Additionally, Jada Pinkett Smith said, "After meeting with several record companies, it was clear that Jay-Z, Ty Ty, Jay Brown and the Roc Nation staff was the unquestionable choice. Their passion for Willow combined with their boundless vision and artistic integrity made Roc Nation the perfect home for our little girl." The singer herself responded, calling everything "overwhelming", but credited values instilled by her parents.
She has an energy and enthusiasm about her music that is truly infectious. It's rare to find an artist with such innate talent and creativity at such a young age. She's just a wealth of information and ideas. She has child innocence but she has a clear vision of what she wants and who she wants to be.
Prior to the song's release, Smith garnered media attention as a "young fashionista", sharing a team of stylists with one of her fashion influences, singer Rihanna. In the summer of 2010, Smith's mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, revealed on Lopez Tonight that her daughter was recording an album. On September 27, 2010, Smith's single was leaked onto the internet, dominating blogs and media outlets. The song sparked comparisons to Rihanna, earning Smith the nickname "baby Rihanna" on Twitter. Coincidentally, the song was leaked the same day Rihanna premiered her single "Only Girl (In the World)". Time magazine, CNN, and Billboard all covered the song the evening of its surface. The effort was applauded by several celebrities on Twitter, including Ciara, Brandy, Solange Knowles, Britney Spears, and Alfredo Flores.
Soon after the song's debut, it was officially announced that Smith signed a record deal with Jay-Z and Roc Nation. The song impacted urban airplay on September 21, 2010. It was released digitally on October 26, 2010. Prior to radio add dates and release, the song collected greatest gainer recognitions on the Rap Songs chart, and on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It would later go on to debut at number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100, and reach the top five on the US R&B chart. It reached the top twenty in several international markets, including the United Kingdom, where it debuted at number two, meanwhile topping the UK R&B Chart. The song's accompanying music video features a colorful concept in which Smith dons several hairstyles which act as paintbrushes to enliven a school. Since going viral, the song became a internet meme, and impacting pop culture. The official remix featuring British rapper Tinie Tempah was released on January 3, 2011. An unofficial remix featuring a verse from rapper Nicki Minaj surfaced on the internet in 2010. The guest vocals were taken from Pearl Future's 2009 song "Lookin' at Me."
"Whip My Hair" is a song by American recording artist Willow. The song is the debut single from her yet-to-be-titled debut release. The song was written by Janae Rockwell and Ronald "Jukebox" Jackson, with the latter producing the track. While attending events, Smith received media attention for her extravagant outfits compared to Rihanna, whom she later credited as a musical influence. Coincidentally leaked on the same day as Rihanna's "Only Girl (In the World)", the song was covered by numerous media outlets, including Time, Billboard, and CNN the day of its release. Initial reception praised the song's kid-friendly, yet universal appeal, while dubbing Smith "baby Rihanna". However, some others critics called the song's hook "grating" and "a nightmare of a brain drill."