In Review: Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Having followed the career of Little Simz from her very earliest self-released EPs on Soundcloud, the North London rapper’s third album GREY Area – released in 2019 – felt in many ways like she had finally realised the spectacular potential that she had displayed on those initial projects, as well as at scintillating live shows as a teenager (and beyond).
What it took to finally alchemise the power of her deft lyricism, her idiosyncratic flow, and her artistic creativity into a piece of work which did justice to each was to simplify and to look inward. Previous projects, her second album Stillness in Wonderland in particular, were ambitious and layered concept albums which exhibited her creativity but perhaps lacked the focus and truthfulness required to draw listeners into her world, especially those who weren’t already a part of it.
So with latest offering Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, it is hugely reassuring to see that Simbi has found a way to explore her more conceptual ambitions without sacrificing the authenticity or honesty; without losing sight of the artistic voice that she has so clearly found and made her own.
The honesty and vulnerability is still plain to see, even more so than on GREY Area, but the record is grander in its composition and its production – once again helmed by Inflo – with the orchestral, militaristic intro of opening track ‘Introvert’ setting the scene for an album that is not afraid of the cinematic.
While a a soulful spirit runs through the record, from the ever-present, jazzy R&B instrumentation to the cut-up samples on ‘Two Worlds Apart’, there’s also Afrobeat on ‘Point & Kill’ with Obongjayar, the rhythms, lyrics and Simbi’s vocal delivery a nod to their shared Nigerian heritage, a beat that flips from grime into 808-laden southern hip-hop on ‘Rollin Stone’, and synthpop grooves on ‘Protect My Energy’. All of which provide a platform upon which Simz explores womanhood, race, relationships, and love, as well as dextrously reflecting on the introversion of the album’s title and the personal insecurities and perceived inadequacies which can seem at odds with her public image: “Simz the artist or Simbi the person?…Angel said ‘Don't let your ego be a disturbance’. Inner demon said ‘Motherfucker, you earned this’.”
Family is also a central theme, and one which brings some of the records most candid and heartfelt moments. Previously released single ‘I Love You, I Hate You’ examines the complicated relationship that Simbi has with her father, closing track ‘Miss Understood’ addresses a strained sororal relationship exacerbated by professional matters, and ‘Little Q’ (PTs 1 + 2) articulate a familiar but hard-hitting story of a young man brought up in a world which leads him into anger, despair, and ultimately physical debilitation at the hands of another in a similarly un-optimistic situation.
All of these difficult and personal topics are handled with a subtlety and a maturity, each of them framed within the perspective of the psychological role which they have to play, and how they feed into the ideas of self-doubt and reclusion that run through the record.
Spoken interludes from Emma Corrin (seemingly still playing Diana Spencer) are in truth an unnecessary flourish, one which somewhat labours the point and ultimately distracts from what makes this record so captivating otherwise. Little Simz doesn’t need to externalise that voice of self-examination, she is evidently more than capable herself. And on Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, Simbi has made it clear that while she may doubt herself sometimes, her talent is undeniable.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is out now via AGE 101 / AWAL. To listen to more Little Simz, click here.