Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is Little Simz’s career-defining masterpiece.
Credit: Age 101 Records/AWAL
Simz’s assessment of the times and herself has magical quality, delivering her most authentic work to date.
Hell yeah, it’s another 9.0/10 baby! That means it’ll be in contest for Sourhouse Album of the Year.
Little Simz has reached the point where she is ready to join the roster of hip hop all-time greats, and of all the British hip hop artists of the last 10 years or so, I can think of few more deserving. It is impossible to deny that her latest album seeks to do anything other than putting her up there.
Few praises have not already been laid upon Sometimes I Might Be Introvert: an authentic, masterfully produced songbook of near total perfection. The modern experience of Britain’s black communities versus the weight of being an artist fill the record with engaging, essential writing. Her flow simply cannot be done justice by my words. The track transitions are ecstatic, and on a number of occasions, the genius and subtlety of its songwriting leaves you speechless. Just to bask in its aura is reward enough.
However, what makes this point in her discographical timeline so particularly wonderful is how vulnerable she has chosen to be. The album’s title is itself an admittance of weakness, one that she takes power in being open about. Every song delves further into her life, and she explores it with us with uninhibited access. The entire record is a cinematised stream of consciousness.
“Via titanic presentation, she backs this battle with cinematic quality, an orchestra depicting its drama at every point and the finest beats of her career driving it forward.”
At its core is a battle over her the artist against her artistry – Emma Corrin’s line on the ‘Gems’ interlude, where she says “one step out of line and you’ll be ridiculed”, is the crux of this. Behind her music, Simz is dealing with how to be herself amidst the turmoil and struggles of a time when Britain’s treatment of its black population is more visible than ever. Meanwhile, as Little Simz the artist, she reckons with the status she now holds within the UK Hip Hop scene, and how to continue to be authentic with the fame she has garnered.
Via titanic presentation, she backs this battle with cinematic quality, an orchestra depicting its drama at every point and the finest beats of her career driving it forward. An uncanny too-and-fro between it plays out from track to track – the way her monologue bursts off the end of ‘Standing Ovation’, laying out a vision of the future for the Black youth of the UK, is an especially magical moment. Meanwhile, you feel the weight of the role she feels she has to play on state-of-the-nation opener ‘Introvert’. It speaks like a manifesto that addresses everything from the property exploitation ongoing in our country to the fear of losing what she has achieved to what people say about her music.
Yet despite how much is at stake in every aspect of Sometimes, Simz never makes herself unavailable. She doesn’t place herself on a throne or try to convince you that she alone is the saviour we need. Her narrative talent, telling stories with life and colour, grounds the record firmly. You see her perspective of Islington, of London and how she interprets the world. It’s refreshing to be able to engage such immensity with such accessibility.
“…it’s been a long time since something with the cinematic, majestic grandeur that Simz has created here has been achieved. “
So many tracks on here beg to be talked about. Everything about those first four cuts is spellbinding, ‘Woman’ in particular redefining just what I thought Simz could possibly pull off. Meanwhile, ‘Little Q. Pt 2’ delivers an delicately personal, touching and supremely moving moment. The beautiful two-track dip into Afrobeat that begins the final side of the record rumbles with passion. And then, towering on its own indomitable self-worth and emotion, comes riding in ‘How Did You Get Here’, nailing the album’s triumphant finale. It’s by far and away the most moving track she has ever made.
Hip hop records of this scale have long been the remit of American artists, doing essential work to document the Black experience in the United States. British hip hop has had its own era-defining releases of course, but it’s been a long time since something with the cinematic, majestic grandeur that Simz has created here has been achieved. The ache in my heart I get whenever I hear it reflects the impossible-to-describe talent she has to be so personal, so vulnerable and so powerful at the same time.
And in being so cards-on-the-table whilst keeping everything so relevant, woven into the fabric of Sometimes is an undeniably genuine reflection of Simz herself. From the album’s title, whose initials spell her own nickname, to the assertion she brandishes on everything she tackles on the record – her blackness, her femininity, her politics, her introversion, her success – the album is an unwavering expression of Simz the artist and Simbi the person.