Suite903: Interview with Bilal, Hal Linton’s Final Road Reports, Willow Smith Shakes it Off

Things got kinda shook up in the soul world last week, in a manner of speaking. First off, after a four-year hiatus, Bilal finally unleashed his Soulquarian steez yet again, in the form of his long-anticipated third album, Airtight's Revenge. It's yet another offering of wine-inspiring, smooth-dude vibrations—though, sorry, we are partial to the swank D'Angeloisms on album opener "Cake & Eat It Too"—and most importantly, it shows dude hasn't been sitting there stagnant like dank water for a half decade. On the contrary—on the eve of its release, he came through S903 HQ to discuss the contrast between his current state of mind and where his head was at when he first began, when he was inspired and overwhelmed by Angie Stone and Herbie Hancock as a young 21-year-old. Nine years after his first release, he chatted us up about his growth as a "blues musician," particularly when singing about his children's sickle cell and autism (as chronicled in the new song "Little One"). Check it out:

Next page: The conclusion of Hal Linton's road reports.

As you might have noticed on prior Suite903s, Hal Linton's been chronicling his tour in the form of road footage—total free-highway gab sessions—and we've got the final three installments for you right here. In episode three, he drives up and down California, and performs live on KTLA 5 News, located in—yes—LA.

Episode four finds him in Atlanta, Georgia (teleportation!), explaining his writing process to a journalist over what appears to be calamari (can we get some of that?). The breading doesn't affect his voice, though—as another live/acoustic performance shows, dude's deep croon's intact like the life affirming yawl of a newborn baby.

Finally, in episode five, Linton explored Greensboro, North Carolina, and performs a touching set under a purple rain. Save travels, Hal!

Next page: Willow Smith's mind-control capabilities.

And in the most unexpected development of the last couple weeks: Willow Smith. Let's just talk a bout "Whip My Hair" for a minute. (Official trailer above.)

Okay, we knew the spawn of Jada Pinkett and Will Smith was gonna be a problem—her mom fronts a goth metal band, her dad's whole early career was basically built upon being a likable miscreant—but how could we know Willow Smith's debutante R&B ball was going to be so beastly? "Whip My Hair" is the song of the year-slash-THIS GIRL IS NINE YEARS OLD AND PRACTICALLY MAKES KERI HILSON SOUND LIKE SHE'S PRACTICING FOR SECOND-ROUND AMERICAN IDOL TRYOUTS. Of course, it makes a little more abstract sense when you consider Smith has grown up among LA film royalty and, consequently, carries herself like a 35-year-old. But YO! We've loved tracks by our fair share of adolescent pop stars—Keke Palmer, Teyana Taylor and obviously El Biebz come to mind—but if the rest of her songs are anything like "Whip My Hair," we predict a headlining slot at BB Kings by the end of 2010 with Fantasia, Ron Isley and like, Frankie Lons as the openers. Precocious! Car jams! Jay-Z's best Roc Nation signing, hands down. We're rooting for you, young Smith, if only because, for once, we feel really, really young in the presence of a tween.

Suite903: Interview with Bilal, Hal Linton’s Final Road Reports, Willow Smith Shakes it Off