Willow Smith Says Jay-Z Deal Shows 'Hard Work Paid Off'

'Whip My Hair' singer also cites Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Billy Idol as musical influences.

She's a 9-year-old fresh princess with swagger to spare. He's a 40-year-old mogul from Marcy with a portfolio so expansive Forbes named him 2010's Hip-Hop Cash King. An unlikely pairing, maybe, but Willow Smith and Jay-Z seem destined to make beautiful music together. The "Whip My Hair" songstress visited MTV News on Tuesday and opened up about her reaction to Hov wanting to ink her to his Roc Nation label.

"It felt like all the hard work paid off, mostly that," Willow told us. "Like all the hard work that I've done, like recording 'Whip My Hair' — it's paid off." She recalled making introductions: "We went to this building, I don't remember what it was, but we had a meeting and I got to hang out with him and meet him, and it was fun."

Whereas other acts sometimes languish for months after signing to a record company, Jay and his Roc Nation team have moved swiftly around the talented tween. An announcement of the deal came just two days after the bouncy single leaked to the Net, and its colorful clip premiered a little more than a month later, on Monday.

In a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest last month, Jay said he was surprised at how poised Willow was when he flew to Japan to meet her and the Smiths — Will, Jada and brother Jaden — on "The Karate Kid" set.

"She walked in and the first thing she said was, 'I'm really nervous,' and I thought, 'That's maturity to explain exactly how she was feeling when she walked right into the room.' I knew right then she was a star," Jay relayed. "I believe in superstars. I believe in big records and superstars, and I think she has both."

Willow's breakout single, a "do you" track that she explained champions fearlessness and individuality "because the best thing is you," has had music watchers speculating about what a Willow Smith debut LP will sound like.

More clues about that are probably tucked into her eclectic short list of favorite artists.

"Lady Gaga, Billy Idol," she shot back when asked about her influences. Smith, it should be noted, had festooned her denim military blazer with a custom-made Gaga brooch and her curly Mohawk would probably inspire a lip curl of approval from the '80s rocker.

She quickly added Beyoncé and Jay-Z "and my mom and my dad!" (It should also be noted that Willow kicked off our interview effortlessly rapping the first few bars of her dad's hip-hop classic "Summertime"). Will, of course, scored a string of PG rap hits in the late '80s as the rhyming half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, while actress mom Jada has toured in the past with her metal band.

What do you think of Willow's first single, "Whip My Hair"? Tell us in the comments!