- A landmark album from one of the UK's most brilliant rappers that explores the difference between public perception and the private self.
- When North London rapper Simbi Ajikawo, AKA Little Simz, dropped her singles "Introvert" and "Woman," this spring, she kick-started a series of breadcrumbs that suggested Sometimes I Might Be Introvert would delve deeper than ever before into her past struggles and present ambitions. Early last week, the trail ended with a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert where she debuted "Point And Kill," an enchanting Afrobeats-inspired groove with versatile vocalist Obongjayar. The track's pidgin English verses celebrate Ajikawo's Nigerian heritage, while her defiant attitude is captured in the hook: "I don't watch face / I don't fear nobody." Defined by sharp lyricism and often confessional storytelling (and grand orchestral sounds), Ajikawo's fourth LP offers a revealing look into her background, family ties, her wins and losses. It's a fearless album that marks her as one of the UK's best rappers.
Ajikawo's work rate also sets her apart. Sandwiched between this record and 2019's breakthrough album GREY Area was a five-track EP self-released during the UK's first lockdown. Entitled Drop 6, that record's raw lyricism hinted that she was prepared to open up, and on her fourth album, she pits herself in a battle between her public image and her private thoughts. "Introvert" opens the record with the pomp and circumstance of a Bond theme. It's a journey through the conflicts between Ajikawo's introverted character and the bold artistic persona she’s cultivated—"Simz the artist, or Simbi the person," she asks.
"I Love You, I Hate You" probes into her traumatic relationship with her father. Confronting her past with a newfound boldness and honesty, she raps, "Never thought my parent would give me my first heartbreak." And then later: "Used to avoid getting into how I really feel about this / Now I see how fickle life can be, and so it can't wait." The urgency of her storytelling gives you the feeling that she's kept this all bottled up for a long time, just waiting for a chance to let it out.
Where "I Love You, I Hate You" aches with catharsis, "Woman" sparkles in celebration. Spanning the globe, this warm and heartfelt tribute to womanhood pays respect to Brooklyn innovators, Tanzanian scholars and how "Miss Ethiopia can play so jazzy / Then sit you down and school you on Selassie." She shows this increased sense of the world around her consistently, spitting inspiring, necessary truths on womanhood, politics and inequality on lines like "All we seen is broken homes here, and poverty / Corrupt government officials, lies, and atrocities," from "Introvert."
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is packed with poetic lyricism, creative production and snippets of humour that highlight Ajikawo's unique attention to detail. Actor Emma Corrin's crisp queen's English punctuates several interludes, producing some spine-tingling moments in her performance of Ajikawo's self-exploratory scripts. Elsewhere, a loving voicemail from a friend offers an outside look into the rapper's personality.
While GREY Area was a collection of great songs, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert feels like a therapeutic breakthrough, a series of tracks bound by purpose and narrative and held together with a series of spoken word pieces and interludes that tell Ajikawo's life story in an intimate, sometimes funny way, like breaking the fourth wall in a movie. But it's not Hollywood—it's wrenchingly honest, including how it ends.
The smooth, piano-driven "Miss Understood" closes the album by opening the fresh wounds of a complex sibling relationship: here, you get the sense that we've only touched the surface of Little Simz's psyche. For now, we can appreciate a body of work so rich with innovation, so broad in its influences and so powerful in its storytelling that we'll still be finding new things to love until the next one comes along.
02. Woman feat. Cleo Sol
03. Two Worlds Apart
04. I Love You, I Hate You
05. Little Q Pt 1 (Interlude)
06. Little Q Pt 2
07. Gems (Interlude)
09. Standing Ovation
10. I See You
11. The Rapper That Came to Tea (Interlude)
12. Rollin Stone
13. Protect My Energy
14. Never Make Promises (Interlude)
15. Point and Kill feat. Obongjayar
16. Fear No Man
17. The Garden (Interlude)
18. How Did You Get Here
19. Miss Understood