Little Simz has been breaking new ground in the UK Rap scene for years now. From delivering an ambitious concept album on Stillness in Wonderland, to appearing in and on the soundtrack of Top Boy, and finding success internationally with her critically acclaimed LP Grey Area, there is not much left off her CV at this stage of her career. This extended period of growth has also seen her success cross over to the other side of the Atlantic, as she performed on Jimmy Fallon in August of this year. It would be fair to say then that Little Simz does not really need to prove herself to anyone, yet her new album is all the more demonstrative of her greatness. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a transformative musical experience that highlights the rapper’s ability for storytelling and songwriting and shows that Simz is just getting started.
Before we delve in to the lyrical ability of the London rapper, one of the first things that is striking about the album is the richness of sound in the tracks across it. Simz has called upon Inflo to oversee the production of the record, who has previously worked with the likes of Michael Kiwanuka and Cleo Sol. The use of live instrumentation on the mammoth opening track, “Introvert”, set the tone for a sonic rollercoaster that feels reminiscent of Kano’s use of brass instrumentation in his live performance and across his past two albums.
This introduction to the semi-titular track has a real regal feel to it, as if Simz herself is part of a procession which asserts her authority over the UK rap scene. Furthermore, Inflo’s use of different soundscapes and sampling across the record make for an album that is diverse and exciting, as we move through soulful cuts, Afrobeats, all the way up to an experimental Electro-Rap cut on “Rollin Stone”. Inflo, as well as Jakwob who assisted in the production, have created an album that even without the formidable rapping of Little Simz, would still sound refreshing and enjoyable to any listener.
That is not to say however that Simbi’s presence is surplus to requirements on this LP, as her ability for flows, and storytelling in particular, is breathtaking on this record. Simz is such a versatile MC, as can be seen on the differences between her relaxed, humorous bars on “Two Worlds Apart”, and her faster, furious flows on “Standing Ovation”.
The latter of the two tracks may well be her best song to date, as Simz uses the first part of the song to congratulate herself and flex on others in the game, before turning her attention to other often overlooked members of society and giving them the spotlight towards the end of the track. Simz raps about, ‘The motivational speakers and the honest Black leaders, The divine healers, the every day low-paid believers, The overachievers in the shadow of the gatekeepers’, demonstrating that even from her position at the top of the game, she is till conscious and self-aware enough to concern herself with key issues.
Moreover, her songwriting and storytelling capabilities on “I Love You, I Hate You” are outstanding, as Simz is able to explore and dissect her complicated relationship with her father. The third verse of this track opens with the bars, ‘On this mission, you live and learn, The world will show you no mercy from birth, How do you humanise your hero? ‘Round here, you’re only respected if earned’. Simz is thus able to examine the ambivalence of her father-daughter relationship, as she expresses disappointment whilst at the same time feeling an unbreakable, chemical bond with her father.
What is also important to note is the bravery of Simz and the production team on the inclusion of the interludes throughout Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, as they help to give the record a cinematic feel. This is also aided by the inclusion of Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in The Crown and takes up the role of mentor for the rapper. On “The Rapper That Came to Tea”, an interlude at the halfway point of the album, Corrin asks Simz, ‘The extroverts like to be entertained, I was told you don’t talk much?’ This therefore plays into the theme of introversion and the dichotomy of Simz as a performer and human being, as she does not play up to the hype and bombastic extroversion we see from so many others in the rap scene away from the stage. The inclusion of the interludes therefore help us gain a better understanding of the rapper as a human being, and therefore add a greater sense of depth to what is already a stunning body of work.
Elsewhere on the record, Cleo Sol continues her stellar year by lending vocals to the empowering single, “Woman”, and Obongjayar brings an infectious energy to the grooving “Point and Kill”.
What Little Simz has produced on this album is nothing short of spectacular, and her achievements should be recognised as such. It’s easy for music fans to get caught up in the releases of Kanye or Drake in recent weeks, but Sometimes I Might Be Introvert should put Simbi in the top bracket of any rap artist, be it in the UK, or internationally.
It is an exciting time for young female artists in UK Rap at the moment, from Enny, to ShaSimone, to Lex Amor. Simz has carved out a lane to help these artists thrive, and it is up to us as listeners to not take her greatness for granted. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a brilliant album, and Little Simz deserves her success.