It will never be more opulent this year: Little Simz’s new, large album begins with kettledrums and trumpets. The Afro-British woman is actually called Simbiatu Ajikawo, or “Simbi” for short. For album number five she found an acronym for her nickname: “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert”. Actually the death sentence in hip hop: who wants to hear an introverted rapper? But already the last record, “Gray Area”, was about getting older – it was an album about the quarter life crisis at the age of 25. Little Simz stands by their melancholy, their doubts.
Little Simz – Woman ft. Cleo Sol (Official Video)
Black woman and proud of it
“Some days I have no words – sometimes I am a word creator”, Little Simz sings in the first song “Introvert”. But also: “I am a black woman and proud of it”. Already about her album from 2015 she said in an interview with Zündfunk that her message is aimed primarily at girls and young women: “If you believe in something, you can go a long way with it.” Now she is 27, and the time is on her side. Some of their former youth clique from the difficult districts of north London are currently enriching the British pop scene. With Cleo Sol, voice of the mysterious music project Sault, she sings an empowerment duet: “Woman”.
The video for “Woman” was the first that Little Simz directed himself. In the video we see women from Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Ethiopia who do what old, white men used to do: dine at a richly laid table and inspire and inspire each other. As soon as she wrote the song, she knew that “Woman” was going to be something special, says Little Simz. This is also due to the musical chemistry between her and Cleo Sol: “It’s not just her voice, her positive spirit also shines through.” Little Simz thinks that Cleo Sol’s singing can only make you feel good. “And when we played the song live for the first time, the audience sang along with passion – the song is one of my favorites.”
Little Simz – I Love You, I Hate You (Visualiser)
Mixed feelings about the absent father
“I Love You, I Hate You” is a piece that was particularly well received: panoramic rap full of strings, brass and choirs. And still put an idea on it without appearing overproduced. A song about the mixed feelings about her absent father. “It was very difficult to write about,” says Little Simz. A lot came up. But a voice in her told her: “Do that!”
What was she holding back? “I didn’t want to give my father this stage before,” says Little Simz. Also, when she was twenty, the song on her first record was still called “Fuck you”, she says – not “I Love You, I Hate You”. Today she’s looking at the Father’s issue from multiple angles. “Because of what I went through in childhood, this is now a very important song for me.”
This is where the heart of British pop beats
“Rollin Stone” ends with the line: “Lucky in Berlin, that’s no problem”. A piece with modern, synthetic trap beats and autotune. Little Simz can also be less opulent-orchestral. Two pieces sound like the Yoruba sound of Nigeria, the home of their parents. In the song “Two Worlds Apart” she raps about an old piece by R-‘n’-B legend Smokey Robinson. But they keep popping up, the self-doubts, the question: Is this Simbi, the private person, or Simz, the artist speaking? Is one the worst enemy or the best friend of the other? According to Little Simz, the piece “Miss Understood” is to be understood as a kind of diary entry. “I often feel misunderstood. That’s how I feel most of the time, ”says the musician. “That often annoyed me.” But sometimes the feeling is also pleasant. “In my music I speak to everyone who feels the same way,” says Little Simz. She wants to tell them: “I see your tears, I feel your pain for not being understood.”
Sure, compared to Cardi B, Nicki Minaj or Lizzo, she’s perhaps that, introverted. But that only makes Little Simz more personable. Our album of the week is already one of the rap highlights of the year. It’s time to sketch the clique around super producer Inflo in a nice diagram: Michael Kiwanuka, Jungle, Cleo Sol, Sault and Little Simz are connected to the mixer in the middle and connected with microcables. The heart of British pop is currently beating here!