Little Simz

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons (2015), 6.5/10
Stillness in Wonderland (2016), 5/10
Grey Area (2019), 6/10
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (2021), 6.5/10
No Thank You (2022), 7/10

(Clicka qui per la versione Italiana)

Nigerian-English female singer and rapper Simbiatu "Little Simz" Ajikaw wrapped tragic tales like Dead Boy in a curious glitchy cacophony on A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons (2015). After the ambitious but disappointing Stillness in Wonderland (2016), Grey Area (2019), produced by Inflo, revealed a rapper of classical elegance against a traditional instrumental background.

Little Simz's fourth album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (Rough Trade, 2021), again produced by Inflo but also arranged by Rosie Danvers, wrapped her autobiographic vignettes in a spinning kaleidoscope of instrumental soundscapes and musical styles, from boom-bap rap (I Love You I Hate You) to Afropop (Point and Kill), and from neosoul to gospel (How Did You Get Here), countering the playful Protect My Energy with the orchestral and cinematic Little Q Pt 2.

Produced again by Inflo, the introspective self-portrait of No Thank You (2022) dials down the orchestral bombast and relegates the beats to second tier. The funky Gorilla steals the horn overture from Beenie Man's Who Am I (1998). There's the bubbling funk-jazz of Who Even Cares and the piano-based Control, and, more importantly, there's the plain rapping and angelic singing sparse in a laid-back soundscape of Angel. Inflo's relatively subdued performance pays off in the sample-fest of No Merci, in the orchestral-heavy Heart on Fire (which is basically a duet with the sampled soul song), in the controlled chaos of X (syncopated beat and a gothic howling choir, a grandiose orchestral sample, African tom-toms, mourning gospel motif), The instrumental background frequently steals the show from Little Simz's monotonous, if immaculate, rapping. This leads to the two most ambitious pieces. The seven-minute standout Broken weaves the atmospheric samples with a melancholy piano motif, a gospel choir and a soothing orchestra. Silhouette not only boasts one of the best rapping performances but also the best architecture due to the call-and-response with a backup choir, the instrumental break with the lush orchestral sample, and the digital beat that morphs into African tom-toms (alas, the whole is ruined by a tedious repetitive beat). If the previous album is better in terms of the rapping, this one wins for instrumental sophistication.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )