Watch your back, Rihanna. There’s a new R’n’B starlet set to take over - and she's just nine years old.

Yes, Willow Smith has arrived- and she’s flicking her hair all up in your face with her astonishing debut track, ‘Whip My Hair’.

The youthful singer - daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith - has generated a starburst of excitement in the industry, ever since the track emerged, the first fruits of her deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label. Everyone's convinced she'll be huge.

Smith's sudden rise to fame, however, has led some to question whether it's right for such a young girl to be thrust into the celebrity world, with its attendant pressures. American news site The Root commented: “Getting grown before you've actually had time to grow is hazardous to your mental and physical health.”

Californian blog Zimbio agreed that Smith should wait to start her music career, saying: “She's 9 years old - she has the rest of her life to start a music career.”

Predictably, Jay-Z defended his decision to sign the youngster in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, saying: “She has a child's innocence but she has a clear vision of who she is and who she wants to be. I can only imagine that's how Mike [Michael Jackson] was as a young kid. When you have that sort of talent, there is no such thing as too young.”

Of course we all know how well that worked out for Michael. Hmm...

So... is Willow Smith being exploited here? Well, 'Whip My Hair', with its insistent vocals and juddering beats, is a belter of a tune. And, maybe the awesomeness of her music clouds my judgement, but I just can't bring myself to get outraged.

Yes, she's young, but she’s probably enjoying the glamour of it all too. The average life of a 9-year-old isn’t what you’d call exciting. And being a pop star isn't necessarily unrelenting hard labour.

Plus, Smith was in the limelight anyway due to Will and Jada, so she might as well be doing something worthwhile to justify her in-born celeb status - unlike vacuous socialites like Paris Hilton, who feed of their family’s fame without doing anything worthwhile.

And sure, the emotional well-being of child stars later in life is notoriously fragile. But you never know - perhaps the fact she has her parents’ knowledge and support will mean she won’t turn into a Lindsay Lohan-style mess.

Let's hope so anyway. Because if she can keep churning out songs as good as 'Whip My Hair', we'll all benefit from Willow Smith's career being a long one.

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