MUSIC REVIEW: ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ by Little Simz
Genre: Hip-Hop / chamber / jazz / funk
Best tracks: “Introvert”, “Woman”, “Speed”, “Standing Ovation”, “How Did You
Weakest track: “Protect My Energy”
Duration: 1 hr 5 min
Release date: September 3, 2021
With “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert”, London rapper Little Simz ambitiously attempts to paint a magnum opus of sounds and moods. Applying orchestral arrangements, a back-up choir of children, lengthy interludes and heavy lyrical topics, Simz’s latest record is theatrical, expansive and grandiose. And she does it with aplomb. “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” is an album that you could frame and place in a museum.
“Introvert” is a strong opener, quick to grab every listener’s attention with its grand string and horn layers, which smack of Kendrick Lamarr’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ era. Simz immediately gets down to work, tackling racism, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement head-on. Backed by the production of her brother and producer Inflo, the rapper sets down a blueprint for us for what’s to come. And yet, we are not prepared for the intense musicality and tunes we are about to hear.
“Introvert” is succeeded by the track “Woman”, which somehow outdoes the predecessor despite a lack of grand instrumentation. In fact, this seems to be
Woman’s strength; the laidback jazz-inspired music relaxes us while providing Little
Simz the spotlight to rap out her empowering lyrics, which is basically a love letter to
women. Women who are beautiful, intelligent, hardworking or innovative. It’s fun to rap along to while also being soothing and sexy in a self-assuring way. The chorus is
provided by the immaculate guest artist, Cleo Sol, who flawlessly matches up to Simz.
She had previously featured in Simz’s song, “Selfish”, in 2019 and honestly, we would
wholeheartedly welcome a collaboration album by this supreme pair of rapper and
‘SIMBI’ (in short) is a record notable for its many interludes. Often, these interludes
involve the endearingly calming voice of actress Emma Corrin, who famously portrayed
Princess Diana in Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ last year. She is basically the voice speaking to
Simz from inside her head, the rapper’s conscience perhaps.
Some listeners have even deemed Corrin as a ‘fairy godmother’ figure. These interludes are extensive and even songs in their own right. Personally for this author, interludes by artists are usually deemed unnecessary and distracting. But the interludes here feel magical, offering a cinematic quality to the overall album. The listener is swooped up and transported smoothly from one track to another stylistically differing track.
This is not to say that ‘SIMBI’ is a perfect, 10 on 10 album. “Protect My Energy”, an 80s
synthpop-inspired track, can feel too loud on the ears as if the mastering here was
never completed. Simz’s previous album, ‘GREY Area’, was a landmark for hip-hop in 2019.
It was a record with bop after bop after bop, from front to back. Every song was
about something specific, which is surely missing here in ‘SIMBI’. Apart from “Introvert” and “Woman”, the themes in the new album aren’t as intensely focused. Or as sonically aggressive and angry as ‘GREY Area’.
Nevertheless, ‘SIMBI’ is Simz’s magnum opus where nearly every song, if not all, is
highly listenable. In a year of rap duds such as Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’ and Kanye
West’s ‘Donda’, a new Simz record feels like a precious gift. ‘SIMBI’ isn’t an album as
much as it is a cinematic experience.
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