The underground rap star solidifies her acclaim with her fifth LP
British rapper Simbiatu Ajikawo, better known by her artist name Little Simz, is one of the most celebrated names in the underground rap scene. This is true especially after the release of her third full-length studio album “GREY Area,” which was a grand departure from the winding concepts of her previous output in favor of harsher production, more direct and pointed lyrics and a darker attitude. “GREY Area” brought Simz critical and commercial acclaim, affirming her place as a boundary-pushing artist at the forefront of hip-hop. With her fifth LP, “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” sees Ajikawo return to the highly conceptual attitude of previous records like “Stillness In Wonderland,” with a very refined approach.
“Sometimes I Might Be Introvert,” which can be written as the acronym SIMBI (a clever reference to her nickname), is a lush, gorgeous, immaculately arranged and eclectic group of expertly-crafted tracks. It is a deep dive into Simz’s past, her life, her personality and her role in the music industry, painting this detailed, flawed, realistic and relatable portrait of one of the most forward-thinking and fresh artists in hip-hop. The orchestral bombastic bliss of “Introvert”; the innocent and exciting playfulness of “Little Q,” backed up with some heartwarming children’s choir vocals; the experimental minimalist banger “Speed.” In the masterfully-executed highlight “Standing Ovation,” Simz has crafted a bold statement on who she is as an artist and a person. She is assertive, solid and perfectly subtle in her words, her flow, her production and her aesthetic.
Every song is a standout in it’s own way, but nothing swept me off my feet quite like “I Love You, I Hate You,” which might go down as one of the coolest, heart-punching genius musical moments of this year. Over a continuously looping sample of “I love you, I hate you…” Simz addresses the complicated relationship she has with her father, going into impressive detail about the emotional impact he left on her. Her verses ebb and flow as she masterfully balances scolding her father’s actions, while still respecting him as a human being and acknowledging how he shaped her into the person she is today. This impossible balancing act becomes increasingly impressive as she continues to deliver these bars while following the narrative pattern provided by the “I love you, I hate you” sample underneath her. The emotional maturity on this track is stunning, as Simz describes her process of forgiving her father, and how she has grown as a person both from his absence and from her own forgiveness. “Lately, I’m paranoid, I feel my life is a mess I’m just usin’ my voice, hope it will have an effect, he was just once a boy, often I seem to forget.” Her empathetic perspective is scolding, but she’s not using empathy as a weapon, or to justify her father’s actions. She’s using it as a stepping stone for her to rise above her own grudges and to grow as a person.
“I keep you in my prayers ’cause life is short as we know
Every mistake you make should contribute to your growth
What you choose to avoid’ll probably come in your dreams
I’m not forgivin’ for you, man, I’m forgivin’ for me”
“Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” is without a doubt my favorite rap album to come out this year so far. It’s bold, diverse, lyrically stunning and inventive. No hip-hop album this year has stopped me in my tracks like this one. Little Simz has made something truly special, so special that it might not just be my favorite rap album of 2021, but my favorite album of 2021.
Jess Williams is a first year exploratory major who blasts underground rap in their dorm room to hype up for a test. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Art by Carolyn Langer.