Yoruba names are incantations that the holder often comes to embody. Little Simz, real name Simbiatu Ajikawo, is growing into hers. “It means brave woman,” she tells me, settling into a plush sofa in a Shoreditch hotel suite, on a downcast October day. For the last decade, the rapper-cum-actor has been battling what she describes as a series of “setbacks and rejection
As she approaches the end of her 20s, she is becoming one of the most well-known musicians in the UK. She is the proud recipient of a Mercury Prize, a Brit Award, and an Ivor Novello. Kendrick Lamar once said that she might “be the illest doing it right now.” Not to mention her photography (her coffee-table book, the *book, was published this year), acting career (she starred as Shelley in the critically acclaimed series Top Boy), or even posting her comfort food recipes on Mob. Does she find that mastering any skill comes naturally to her? “Is it wrong for me to say yes?”
Little Simz sounds like nobody else. Her desire to stand out is the source of her unique style. Her breakthrough 2021 album and fourth studio album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, was praised for its grandiose production, which spanned from anthemic orchestration to soul, highlife, and afrobeat-infused tracks – a magnum opus. “I’m really sculpting a sound that has its roots in hip-hop, but it doesn’t mind branching out to appeal to a wider audience,” she explains. On songs like “Venom,” she dismantles misogynists who don’t like to see “pussies in power” and declares that loving oneself is preferable to disappointing a partner (“No one love you like I love you, baby, note to self”). She also raps about mental health. She isn’t afraid to challenge lyricism.
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