The Lowdown on Little Simz
– One of Hip-Hop's
Most Exciting Artists Right Now


(TURN SOUND ON ︎)

WRITTEN BY EMMA COOKE

(HIPHOP, RAP) - 14.12.20

Simbi Ajikawo is not only a talented rapper; she’s also a proud North Londoner, to the extent that her two passions are regularly intertwined in her storytelling tracks.

As a child, she spent her time soaking up the work of female hip-hop artists like Missy Elliott and Lauryn Hill, as well as the rap icon himself, Jay Z. With this in mind, her younger self would be proud of where she’s ended up today. After all, she’s been welcomed into the very music scene she idolized, while forging her path under a new identity that we’ve come to know and love – the one and only Little Simz has quickly become a mainstay in the world of hip-hop.

She’s been on one hell of a journey too. The twenty-six-year-old has three full-length albums to her name and an impressive set of collaborations to boot – think Gorillaz, Becky Hill and BADBADNOTGOOD. In each instance, she's made her mark with cleverly orchestrated and socially conscious lyrics, giving each song a distinct flavor.

Although she found her footing in the hip-hop space, her style has since evolved, alongside her confidence. More recently, she’s dabbled in the likes of jazz, neo-soul and dubstep. Radio 6 certainly can’t seem to get enough of her more recent tracks – as sure a sign as ever of her quality.

As a result, her 2015 debut album A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons – referred to as the work by someone with extraordinary promise – feels a million miles away from her latest effort, 2019's GREY Area, where she really comes into her own. The latter has resulted in her picking up a hoard of new fans. 

But for now, let’s focus on the notoriously tricky second album, which came in the form of 2016’s Stillness in Wonderland. She describes it as an experimental compilation inspired by the psychedelic themes in Alice in Wonderland and explains, in an interview with Grazia, that crafting this particular album enabled her to figure out different ways of using her voice to emphasise very different messages.


            
|Photo from Little Simz Crack Magazine, Issue 86 2018|






              
                           |Little Simz O The Cover Of Crack Magazine, Issue 86 2018|


It was around this time that Simz experienced a breakthrough moment. Her name was passed along to the one and only Damon Albarn as a potential feature for the track ‘Garage Palace’, which was later included in the extended edition of the Gorillaz album Humanz.This led to her being listed alongside mammoth names like Snoop Dogg, Grace Jones and De La Soul. Although it's a short track at just two and a half minutes long, her fast-paced bars fit effortlessly into the eccentric style that Gorillaz are known for. She even has her own animated character for the track's video. The result? She was invited to be an opening act for their 2017 tour, which promised yet more exposure.

The following years lead to Simz hunkering down to work on her third album GREY Area. She wanted to push it to new heights, which meant venturing out of her comfort zone. By this point, she was ready to be vulnerable: something she says she is able to do more through her music than in person.

2019 was a big year. Before the full album drop in March, four tracks were released and two in particular hit it off with old and new listeners. '101 FM' is a personal track full of nostalgia and reflection. It brims with confidence, thanks to the crisp and uplifting beats that run throughout. Even if you don't pay attention to the lyrics, it's easy to see why the song has appealed to the masses. By contrast, 'Selfish' is a cool, slow-paced track brought to life with silky violins and soulful vocals courtesy of Cleo Soul. It's a song that breaks down her internal conflict between self-care and selfishness.

The 10-track album has been praised for its storytelling. By compiling an eclectic mix of soundscapes, she confidently sets the mood in each song, making them extremely palatable for more mainstream listeners, as well as her loyal hip-hop-loving fans.

Although 2020 has interrupted the music industry in a big way, it's spurred her on to create a brand new EP, Drop 6, which features the track 'Might Bang Might Not'. So far, it’s been gladly received and has certainly kept her name circulating in the music space. She may be three-albums in, but somehow this only feels like the beginning – and after acquiring public praise from huge figures in the industry, from Kendrick Lamar to Anderson Paak, there's no reason why we can't expect even greater things from her in the not-too-distant future.


Listen to her new EP, Drop 6  below: 





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