By Sanna Hamid BA History and International Relations
With a refreshing sense of inner-confidence, Little Simz released her 4th studio album this year. Many people are shocked to be discovering her work only now, with the comment ‘flat out embarrassed it took me this long to discover her’, getting almost nine thousand ‘likes’ under a music video. ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ takes a deep dive inside Simbi’s mind (her nickname which is an acronym for the album title) as she reflects on her surroundings, reminisces on conversations with loved ones and invites the listener to see their experiences through her own.
As of recent, everyone has probably felt themselves edge towards introversion at some point – this album is a ‘coruscrating journey into the heart of what it means to be alive in these tumultuous times.’
As of recent, everyone has probably felt themselves edge towards introversion at some point – this album is a ‘coruscating journey into the heart of what it means to be alive in these tumultuous times.’ The album consists of 19 tracks where, through the lens of introversion, Little Simz reflects profoundly on an impressive number of topics, such as systemic racism, social justice, black (+female) empowerment, self-belief, societal expectations, morality, love, and relationships to a backdrop of glorious instrumentals. There is also a strong afrobeats presence throughout, with Obongjayar featuring on ‘Point and Kill.’
On the masterful opener ‘Introvert’ we are given creative camera work and choreography on the music video, to compliment the hefty subjects being tackled in the song. How a pop star could be an introvert is the sort of topic that could fill a book – or an album. ‘Simz the artist or Simbi the person?’ It slips out a couple of minutes in. She dives into deep-rooted issues such as gentrification, ‘knocking down communities to re-up on properties. I’m directly affected. It does more than just bother me’. This alludes to the seemingly ever-increasing property prices in the capital, being sped up by developers who give little thought to the effects on existing communities in the areas they seek to regenerate. Through her writing, Little Simz explores her thoughts (‘I bottle up and then spill it in verses’ goes ‘Introvert’), but how does she deal with the fact that, the bigger she gets, the more people will be let into those inner tussles? It seems it is a welcome change as she insists, ‘I think I need a standing ovation / 10 years in the game, I been patient.’
This links to the theme of achieving your dreams, goals, and ambitions, which we see a lot of. On the track ‘How did we get here?’ Little Simz says, ‘I sit and read my own lyric books, like, damn it must’ve been destined’ or ‘I’ve come too far for me to be consumed by my fears.’ A self-proclaimed wordsmith, she entertains with rhyme and wordplay in the last song ‘Miss Understood’, inviting the listener to ponder with her, ‘Was it all a waste of handshakes and how are yous and what you been up tos?’. Simz touches on all sorts of interpersonal relationships from her parental rifts in ‘I love you, I hate you’, to lovers and the everyday conversational friendship that we all crave.
Lengthy interludes sprinkled between tracks are narrated by the posh voice of fellow Netflix star Emma Corrins, who plays Princess Diana in The Crown, which provides a breathing space between beats that mirror the messages Simz raps about, ‘your introversion led you here, intuition which protects you along the way… the top of the mountain is nothing without the climb.’ They offer mostly cliche phrases on self-belief that seem to fit well overall.
This album offers a certain realness that we hardly see from her male counterparts in the hip hop/ rap scene who, for lack of better words, sometimes do put cap in their rap. Being a female rapper is tough – this is Little Simz’s first album that has debuted at number four on the UK albums chart, becoming her highest charting album and first top forty. This is unlike her male peers in the industry, who have witnessed plenty of charting successes. It seems she has embarked on the ‘the journey of what it takes to be a woman’.
Caption: Poster promoting Little Simz’ new album (Credits – Twitter.com/LittleSimz)