The singer, 21, recalled the “crazy” things her mother had to deal with during her time in the alternative music scene and the resistance she has experienced in the same industry.
Smith, who stars on the front cover of Glamour UK’s September issue, told the magazine: “Oh, my goodness. She was getting death threats. It was a crazy amount of stuff going on.
“I remember being like, ‘Yo! People are really upset about this, they’re mad that a black woman wants to do metal and is in the space. Like that was activism.
“When I wanted to do a rock album, there were a lot of executives that were like, ‘Hmm…’
“If I had been white, it would’ve been completely fine, but because I’m black it’s, ‘Well, maybe let’s just not’ – and making it harder than it needs to be.
“If I go through that, every single other black artist is getting the pushback (too).”
Smith, daughter of Hollywood star Will Smith, said it is a case of allowing “people of colour, women and all marginalised communities (to) step out of the boxes that society wants to put us in.
“Not even just in music, but in every part of our lives – that’s the special sauce,” she said.
The activist and singer, known for songs including Whip My Hair and Wait A Minute!, is set to release her new album Coping Mechanism.
“Music has been at the forefront of some of earth’s biggest paradigm shifts. Part of the reason I love it is because it’s such a strong agent of change.
“I definitely think there’s always more to do in (terms of) the way that we do business in these artistic branches and endeavours. It’s systematic oppression.
“If we start to undo that, then hopefully real change can happen.”
Read the full interview in the Glamour UK September Digital Issue online now.