Something’s shifted for the revered, MOBO and Ivor Novello award-winning rapper and poet Simbi Ajikawo (AKA Little Simz). On the epic, 19-track Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (S.I.M.B.I), it feels like there’s a new currency that she trusts. Little Simz is drilling more deeply now, and touching on some of the most acute personal issues. And it’s resulted in her finest work yet.
She sets the tone with a sharp examination of her notorious tendency to “bottle it up then spill it in verses”, on opener, ‘Introvert’. Whilst on ‘I Love You, I Hate You’, Simz picks apart her dad’s absence, and on ‘Little Q Pt2’, she peers into the early years of her cousin’s life, and how it was so close to being cut short by the cyclic, systemic racism that haunts an upbringing as a young man of colour in London. Little Simz’s lines can leave you capsized.
Musically, S.I.M.B.I. is varied. Produced by Inflo and backed by a forty-piece orchestra, the record smudges together such a vast, freewheeling mix of sounds that it recalls the instrumental range of artists like J Dilla or Madlib. From epic orchestral quest on ‘Introvert’, to silky jazz on ‘Woman ft. Cleo Sol’, to joyful ’80s funk and Afrobeat-inspired ‘Protect My Energy’.
On S.I.M.B.I., Little Simz levels her successes by being herself, being introverted. And with that, she has made a record that prompts the kind of introspection that can lead to personal breakthroughs. It’s an album to listen to over and over.
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