Little Simz, or Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, is no stranger to the music industry. London born and bred, her career has been slowly building for the last 10 years. With funk, grime, soul, hip-hop and jazz influences, it’s fair to say her music is like that of no other. So when her new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (spelling out her nickname “Simbi”) was released, we sent a couple of our writers to give their verdict…
Throughout her ten year career, Little Simz has garnered a reputation as an absolutely game-changer in the UK rap scene. Her clarity, focus, and next-level flow on anywhere she appears has meant she has outdone every rapper in the game so to see her now embrace this status on her fourth LP, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, is completely mesmerizing.
Simz pulls no punches from the get-go, commanding a rousing orchestra on the lead single Introvert. No flex she claims is unjustified as she sets up her existential plight (‘Simz be the artist or Simby the person’). Almost as conflicted as I am trying to decide if it’s Simz’ or Simz’s. The powerful production flairs are not forgotten and rise up throughout Simz’ quest for identity, her spirit guide voiced by Emma Corrin doing their best Skyrim NPC voice. Although initially intriguing, these interludes do become grating after a while but are often forgiven as the tracks claim your attention wholeheartedly.
In the first few tracks, Simz leaps from relationship trouble to family strife and cultural mores, imbued with affecting intimacy. The transitions are often so seamless you’re not entirely sure where you are. Much like her lyricism, there is not a breath wasted. Her penmanship has alway been sleek and concise and you’re never in doubt in what she’s saying or how she says it. This is particularly impressive on Two World Apart where she subverts her own style, capturing the energy of a chill couch hang, caught somewhere between DMCs and greening out.
Simz proves herself at home on a gorgeous blend of genres throughout the hour and five minute runtime, effortlessly picking up RNB, afrobeat, typical grime, and even Prince-esque power synths. The misses, like Protect Your Energy, are forgettable and more than made up for elsewhere. Despite the seriousness of her intention, you never want to move on from any topics Simz finds herself languishing in, from love letters like I See You to self-celebration on Standing Ovation. The features are given ample room to show their talent, including an irresistible appearance from Obongjayar, which I have not stopped shaking my tush to.
Little Simz had nothing to prove, so to see her power through and express flaws in such an exceptional project is sensational. For an album so full of questions, there is not a moment of doubt about what she can achieve.
This week Hip Hop saw new albums from Drake, Kanye West and Little Simz. Is Little Simz better than Kanye West? Yes. She didn’t invite a homophobe and a rapist to premiere an album release. Is she better than Drake? Yes. She didn’t sample R Kelly while having a tattoo of one of his victims on his back. The bar is so low.
Tallying up at 19 songs, this is a big album. In Little Q Pt 2, she says “been angry my whole life” and you really get that feeling with this album – in a distinctly female way. This is not incoherent rage against the machine: this is elegant, measured. You get the sense that this anger is something that has been sat with for years, and not afforded hysteria: it has been shaped and adapted to be carried within. I Love You I Hate You, the first single, is a triumph that does justice to the complexities of generational trauma. The ceaseless repetitions of the title throughout hammer in that dizzying love/hate cycle. In this track, you also hear echoes of her song ‘venom’ – which you’ve probably heard on tiktok as a viral sound largely used to retell moments of female empowerment.
Orchestral samples sprinkled throughout this album set a dramatic tone. It gives the feeling of introversion yes, but more so sets the stage for vulnerability and introspection. Simz says this album was hard to make because it’s so deeply personal it’s almost like a diary. Quips like ‘were you a sperm donor or a dad?’ cut deep, reminding me of the diaristic sound of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, or more recently, Childish Gambino’s ‘Camp’.
Samples include a somewhat unexpected Emma Corrin – who sounds exactly like her Princess Diana portrayal in The Crown, but also like Hermione which is odd and kind of hilarious. Chiming in and out in interludes, she becomes an omnipotent godmother on this album, offering short motivational speeches between tracks. It definitely shapes it, and maybe not for the better? I really can’t detach the Diana connection which feels hyper distracting, and her posh tone auto translates to me as Tory, for which I might be WRONG, but regardless leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
At Simz’ chillest, on tracks like Leo, the sound is smooth and comparable to Solange’s ‘A Seat At The Table’. And the last quarter of this album feels dancy, with at times an 80s synth vibe, balancing out those serious tones.
Her lyricism is what stands out here: this is not background music by any means, it is notably good quality sound.
Sometimes I May Be Introvert is available to listen to now on all streaming platforms.