Taking the audience into the heart of her hometown of Brockley, South London, Young recalls all the cautionary lessons her parents taught her growing up. From choosing the right friends to being back home from school by curfew, the single explores how life becomes inherently challenging as a young, black child.
“All I heard growing up is got to work harder than your white friends” she sings in a sobering line that gives perspective to the current state of inequality. Strikingly personal, there is a refreshing sincerity in her voice as she sails over her signature jazz-laden boom bap sound. Self-produced, written, and recorded by Young, melodic layers of a sparkling Rhodes keyboard, effortless trumpet and swinging percussion give the track a neo-soul edge that feels self-assured and accomplished.
“White Teeth” is Young’s first release of 2021 – following her 2020 debut EP Middle Matters – and it’s easy to see why her production and charisma caught the ear of Jay Electronica, leading her to be signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Management.
Weaving a narrative that is equal parts playful and pensive, Young’s honest, open, and conversational tone brings the observer into her lived experiences. Brimming with empathy, the track implores the listener to put their foot in another person’s shoes – ultimately acting as a reality check in the particularly poignant fight for racial justice.
“’White Teeth’ is a bittersweet song and was inspired by my childhood,” explains Young on the story behind the track. “I wanted the listener to see the world through the eyes of an innocent child who is yet to face adversity simply for the colour of their skin. I wanted to create something catchy, almost nursery rhyme like to make it digestible. Musically, ‘White Teeth’ gave me space to really expand on my storytelling. It’s a big sound with a strong message.”
“White Teeth” demonstrates an artist slowing time down, finding space to reflect, and delivering her finest work yet. The track is an uplifting reminder that despite her tough upbringing and challenges, Young will undoubtedly keep shining through those white teeth.