There have been some enormous album releases over the last few weeks. Whilst Kanye West’s highly anticipated Donda and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy have been battling it out for top spot in the charts, it might have been easy to get distracted from the main event – Little Simz just released one of the best albums of the year, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is the fourth studio album by British rapper Little Simz, which uses her infamous lyricism to deconstruct pain and anger, explore broken societal systems and traverse her relationship with her father – no stone of vulnerability is left unturned.
The album – an acronym for her name, Simbiatu Ajikawo, or Simbi to family and friends – utilises all 19 tracks to take the listener to a new dimension, combining Little Simz’ razor-sharp lyrics with shimmering orchestral flourishes, and a peppering of narration voiced by Emma Corrin (AKA The Crown’s Princess Diana) representing her subconscious voice or life coach.
The album debuted in the Official Albums Chart Top 5 on Friday, righteously alongside some big company, including Drake, Kanye West and Iron Maiden. This certainly isn’t Little Simz’ first rodeo – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert bounces right off the momentum of her Mercury nominated 2019 album, Grey Area, as well as the years of success preceding it.
In 2015, Kendrick Lamar announced to BBC Radio 1 that ‘she might be the illest doing it right now’, right before she released her debut album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, leading to her position on the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list. In 2016, she released Stillness In Wonderland and toured with both the Gorillaz and Lauryn Hill, before the release of Grey Area in 2019 – which gloriously did the TikTok rounds in 2021. Oh, and if you want to revel in her glory even more, which you should, she is an established actor, playing Shelly in Top Boy.
Despite these credits, it is SIMBI that is arguably her strongest piece to date, propelling her not just into the conversation of best rappers, but best artists of the twenty-first century. What sets SIMBI aside from other recent releases is that it covers so much ground both lyrically and musically, yet it remains both familiar and cohesive. Together with trusted peer and producer Inflo, (Cleo Sol, Michael Kiwanuka, Sault), Simz traverses the worlds of hip-hop, soul, jazz, Afrobeat, 80s pop and cinematic soundtracks, sounding just as at-home from one to the next.
Brassy punches and militant percussion announce her arrival in the title track, ‘I Love You, I Hate You’ effortlessly combining a sample-driven groove with shimmering orchestration as Little Simz explores her paternal relationship. ‘Protect My Energy’ provides 80s pop nostalgia with a bouncy electro-funk groove. Little Simz is in good company too, with Cleo Sol featuring on the infectious ‘Woman’, and Obongjayar providing supreme vocals on ‘Point and Kill’ – an understated track that is reminiscent of 1970s Nigerian Afrobeat.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you like rap. If you like classical music or Nina Simone; if you like cinematic orchestras or Fela Kuti; if you like John Coltrane or Benjamin Zephaniah; then you should be listening to Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.