Album Review: Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (Age 101)
The positive magnetism of Little Simz is undeniable, attracting not just a Mercury Prize nomination, but fans with huge names viz Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill. Starting up her own independent record label, releasing four mixtapes, five EPs, and the critically acclaimed LP ‘Grey Area’ all before the age of 25 indicates the work she has put in. And this is before mentioning the sheer quality of the projects thus far. A big factor that has set more watchful eyes upon the young British rapper by day.
Courting a 40 piece orchestra and Emma Corrin (from The Crown) into Abbey Road Studios, opening track ‘Introvert’ holds up to it’s ‘world domination’ ambition, being one of the best songs of the year hands down. Simz’s flow is as intense as the James Bond-esque instrumentation that backs her. The drums that open the track figuratively lead Simz into war, before her unapologetic flow comes in atop, detailing government corruption, social issues, her personal faith, and hardships finding success. It’s 6 minute runtime feels hard to believe, and by the track’s finish it leaves it’s listener little room to breathe. Corrin comes in delivering the first of many motivational monologues in the back half of the track. Something that without fail paints pictures of Corrin being the Virgil-esque guide to Simz’s Dante, especially on Gems, which plays out as a dramatic conversation between the two. This theatricality is enough to deceive one and make them think they’re listening to a musical theatre soundtrack rather than a hip hop album. The quality is A1 though. The line ‘Pressure Makes Diamonds’ is a standout one. The idea being a loose concept album about Simz being an introvert in an extrovert rap world, and it works well.
It’s in moments like these – at Simz’s most introspective – that she delivers her finest lines. Although having seen the shadows of similar themes in her previous work, here it is portrayed in more minute detail. Take ‘Little Q Part 2’, a track about the abuse given to young black males on English streets. Simz submerges into the personal near death experiences of her cousin being stabbed in the chest, before he fortunately made it out alive. Looking into her not so positive relationship with her dad on ‘I Hate You I Love You’ is another sensitive and memorable moment. The Lyrics speak for themselves as she asks the question “Is you a sperm donor or a dad to me?”.
‘I See You’ takes the perspective of a conversation with a lover about her deepest insecurities. Something spoken with no resistance, over this gorgeous instrumental of muted guitar with a prominent bassline. Just low key enough to keep the shine on Simz’s lyrical abilities. And here is one of many times that producer Inflo proves to have somehow grown in scope. I note here that the only sample on this album is a Smokey Robinson one that is incorporated into candid ‘Two Worlds Apart’. The other songs opt to create an organic version of sampling. Whether it’s the celebratory ‘Woman’, with its slick 70s soul sound, ‘Rollin Stone’ with it’s dirty grime beat – one that complements it’s swaggering bars, or the upfront ‘Fear No Man’ with it’s carribean inflections, it is no denying that a real chord has been struck on this album by molding the right musicians to the right tracks.
Many left turns appear in it’s 19 track runtime, and it’s a wonder how – for the most part – it works in Simz’s favour, proving to deliver some of her best songs to date. Some so strong that they may become staples in hip hop. There is just a part of me that wishes Simz had cut down the run time to a strong 40 minute album. The awkward ‘Protect My Energy’ is a repetitive speed bump by the middle of the album, focusing more on some lackluster lyrics and a dated 1980s inspired funk pop instrumental; and ‘Point And Kill’ arguably similarly feels out of place with the rest of the LP, despite me admiring Simz’s change in accent to fit Obongjayr’s feature. All this pulls the focus away from the album’s real strong points.
‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ Is Released Via Age 101 on September 3