Little Simz is Redefining Simbi

Vulnerable, aspirational, and admirable. Words to describe Little Simz’s sort-of self-titled album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, and the London artist herself, or at least the potentially exaggerated character she plays across its 19 tracks. The 2021 album, produced by Inflo, is a mirror, working through hard memories and harsh reality. It also sees beyond itself, acknowledging the community in which she is enmeshed and a hopeful future she not only imagines but demands. 

On “Gems,” an interlude co-starring Emma Corrin, Simz pleads, “I’m tryna be the best version of myself/I’m tryna be the greatest version of myself.” The rapper, née Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, nicknamed Simbi, has been active since 2010 as an actor and musician, with impressive credits spanning her career. She released her first mixtape in the same year of her screen debut—when Ajikawo was 16. I remember the buzz around the hot “new” artist after I moved to LA in 2014, around the same time that she released a flurry of new music, lighting up the blogosphere. She opened for Gorillaz (and featured on a Humanz bonus track) and received praise from Kendrick Lamar. She even released what one could call a multi-sensory experience: her 2016 album Stillness in Wonderland came with a comic book, art exhibition and festival (probably not bundled though). Her guest appearance in Venom: Let There Be Carnage had to have been a career highlight: she got to perform “Venom”—an original track!—during a scene in the film. 

The distinction she makes in “Gems” says a lot about her; she has immeasurably high standards that cause her to police her language about her own growth. “Pressure makes diamonds,” Corrin responds, encouragingly. Ajikawo radiates that philosophy—she probably wrote it for Emma to recite in the first place. 

Sometimes I MIght Be Introvert is not an album that can be described concisely. There are empowering moments on “Woman” and “Introvert,” and also anytime Emma Corrin interjects. I’ll never tire of the groove on “I See You.” Ajikawo refers to her Nigerian roots with “Point and Kill,” a collaboration with Nigerian-born artist Obongjayar. And “I Love You, I Hate You” stirred up emotions about her difficult relationship with her father—for the first time. 

She had never before rapped about her dad. After making the song’s foundational beat, Inflo suggested she sing about someone she loved and hated. In the latter parts of the song, her rage is palpable, though her focus remains internal throughout. (Perhaps it was my rage that I felt.) Ajikawo told Simran Hans (The Guardian) why she is finally tackling this part of her story: “Because I don’t want to be angry any more, man. It takes up too much energy and it takes up too much mental space…”

More than an introvert, Simz is introspective, giving all of herself to Sometimes I MIght Be Introvert. In a cheeky sense, she named it after herself: its initials spell out SIMBI. Moments blur—“Simz the artist or Simbi the person?” And Simz takes on different personas, too (“Little Q,” “Rollin Stone”). But she learned from the experience and blossomed like the lush implication of “The Garden.” 

She described to Hans her newfound sense of freedom that grew from her vulnerability. Free to take over the world—I’d support it. A world that celebrates women, invites everyone to be their best selves, and honors the common spirituality of humanity. Though Simz did the latter directly after calling herself the GOAT. With a lot of support from Inflo, this album is flawlessly crafted, featuring slick transitions and textured rhythms. And she’s always been this talented. …So she’s not wrong.

Best Albums of 2021

4. Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

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