Over the past decade, Little Simz has been consistently described as underrated. Yet, her evolution since her debut album in 2015 shows an artist whose vision expands with each record, every time managing to fit her ambitious ideas into a cohesive project. Thus far, Simz has been successful: ‘Grey Area’, released in 2019, was critically acclaimed and won NME’s Best British Album Award in 2020. In April 2021, she tweeted: “no more slept on talk, no more underrated talk, pls & thank you.”
That same month, she announced her fourth studio album, ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’, which dismisses any lingering notion of her being undervalued. Expansive in breadth, deep in introspection and underpinned by exemplary production, ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ doesn’t misstep: it is a timeless project, one which, arguably, cements Little Simz as one of the greatest artists the United Kingdom has ever produced.
It’s apparent from the very first seconds that Little Simz had a vision for ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’. A snarling drumroll coupled with an anthemic crescendo opens the record. An angelic chorus swoops in, illuminating the percussion while grandiose strings fill in, setting the tone for a cinematic journey. What follows is 19 tracks of pure authenticity and creativity, elements of which weave themselves into the very fabric of the album, situating it as influential from just one listen. Coupled with her razor-sharp pen, Simz has created what is a modern-day epic poem: she allows space to be vulnerable – the most vulnerable she’s been yet – while still spitting braggadocio rhymes and soft third-person storytelling.
On album opener, ‘Introvert’, Simz raps her opening argument, an introduction that catches the listener up to her life thus far while laying out her thesis: “Close to success but to happiness I’m the furthest / At night I wonder if my tears will dry on their own,” she raps, allowing the listener further into herself. This duality – of the braggadocio rapper who has money, fame and talent – is juxtaposed delicately alongside the vulnerable person figuring out their emotions and life in their twenties underneath the cloud of a pandemic.
Aside from her internal struggles, Simz is an astute observer, watching the world crumble around her, angry at an inept government while seemingly also feeling helpless – a running theme reiterated throughout the album. On ‘Introvert’ again, she raps, “All we see is broken homes here and poverty / Corrupt government officials, lies and atrocities / How they talking on what threatening the economy / Knocking down communities to re-up on properties / I’m directly affected / It does more than just bother me.”
Though ‘Grey Area’ gave Simz the recipe for success, it’s apparent it was a stepping stone for her to try something loftier. Overseen and executive-produced entirely by childhood friend Inflo, ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ consists of 15 songs, four interludes (narrated by The Crown’s Emma Corrin) and two features, London-based artists Cleo Sol and Obongjayar. The sparse features showcase Simz’s lyrical ability to hold an entire album on her back.
On stand-out track ‘I Love You, I Hate You’, Simz reveals the inner conflict about her absentee father: “You made a promise to God to be there for your kids / You made a promise to give them a life you didn’t live / My ego won’t fully allow me to say that I miss you / A woman who hasn’t confronted all her daddy issues.” Throughout this record, listeners are allowed into various unearthed parts of Simz’s life. It’s through her excavation of the subject matter which reveals a more mature, level-headed artist, epitomised by her capacity to put herself in other people’s shoes.
On ‘Little Q Part 2’, a song depicting her cousin being stabbed, Simz steps into the mind of the victim, offering compassion. Her penchant for third-person storytelling throughout this album is exemplary, epitomised here when she raps: “Shit changed when I had a brief encounter with death / Thought the pearly gates opened when that knife was in my chest / Not the mental scars, the scars physicals, all you see / But the boy that stabbed me is just as damaged as me.”
The production throughout is nothing short of exceptional. With the full backing of an orchestra, there is a richness to the sound overseen by seminal producer Inflo. Their chemistry is apparent throughout as the vocals and production coil around one another egging the other on to new heights. On ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’, Simz has pushed herself artistically into new spaces while still allowing herself moments to be boastful of her riches saying on ‘Rollin Stone’: “Want my suit Taylor’d by Gucci / First class to Shibuya for the sushi / Gimme checks and gimme my plaques.”
Little Simz has ferocious energy on this album, a relentlessness that she must get everything in her head out now. It feels like she is closing the volume to a book, the last chapter in it written and filed. With ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’, Little Simz has crafted a near-perfect album that will exist as a marker for future generations to try and attain; it’s not hyperbole to suggest that this canonises her work forever, elating her to be one of the greats.
Label: Age 101 Music
Release date: September 3, 2021