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LITTLE SIMZ Sometimes I Might Be Introvert gets 9.5/10


Little Simz

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Age 101 / AWAL

9.5/10

Ever since she came on the scene, UK-based British-Nigerian rapper and singer Simbiatu ‘Sibmi’ Abisola Abiola Ajikawo (AKA Little Simz) has gone from strength to strength. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert can comfortably be called her most ambitious and best release thus far, an album of dazzling musical and lyrical scope.

As a double album with nineteen fully-formed tracks, Introvert may initially seem daunting. However, this is no bloated concept album (Donda, take note). Rather, it’s an exploration of Little Simz’ many personal facets – be it political views, personal struggles or her drive to succeed – expressed through as many musical influences and ideas as humanly possible in sixty-five minutes of tape.

The outstanding lyrical, musical and production consistency across all of these tracks is something special. Identifying highlights for this album is impossible, each track delivering in its own way. Opener Introvert lets the listener know they’re in for something epic with the sounds of an orchestral fanfare giving way to a beat that balances fire and fury. Lyrically it describes Little Simz’ inner world, plagued by thoughts of her country and the world’s ills (“Mothers burying sons, young boys playing with guns/ The devil’s a liar, fulfil your wildest desires/ Now I don’t wanna be the one to doctor this/ But if you can’t feel pain, you can’t feel the opposite”).

The theme of looking inward runs through the whole album, as Simz balances braggadocio with self reflection. This is best exemplified on the album’s final two tracks, which maintain just as much creativity and passion as the opener. How Did You Get Here sees Little Simz machine-gun rap smooth as silk about her climb to where she is at. This is no empty ego piece though, instead talking about work ethic and keeping positive: “Nothing in life comes easy and you work twice as hard ’cause you Black/ Used to think mum exaggerated ’til the world showed me it’s fact/ Still, it’s mine for the takin’, lock the doors and we break in/ Still got love for them non-believers, yeah, the ones that said we won’t make it/ Everything you want is out there waitin’ for you to take it/ The key is to have faith in your dreams and never stop chasin’/ And you’ll make it, trust.” The instrumental is amazing, starting as a piano ballad before shifting directions multiple times with jazzy dexterity.

Meanwhile Miss Understood feels like a warm bath with its soft marimba-led groove. Here Little Simz is far from perfect, sometimes too wrapped up her introversion (“I don’t wanna be up, I been down for days/ Layin’ in my misery, hopin’ I will be saved”) and family struggles resulting from her ambition and fame. It’s a theme shared on I Love You, I Hate You, a searing yet bristlingly intelligent exploration of her relationship with her father.

Elsewhere Little Simz turns her attention to wider issues and exudes positivity. Protect My Energy is an amazing, euphoric electro tune with M.I.A vibes, while Little Q parts 1 and 2 balance a bracing narrative against a positive and life-affirming chorus. It sounds like it could descend into cheese, but never does.

Woman is one of the year’s best singles, a languid organ-led groove with dense, intelligent lyrics namechecking women from different cultures throughout the world. Culture forms an important part of the album’s musical influences too, tracks experimenting with African rhythms and gospel on tunes such as Never Make Promises, the slinky bassline and congas of Point And Kill, and the smoky voodoo funk of Fear No Man . All of these tracks sound fantastic.

This early in the 2020s and we may have seen our first masterpiece, an album that will go down as a touchstone for modern hip-hop and RnB. Ambitious, creative, heartfelt and intelligent, this is an album that richly rewards repeated and careful listening.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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