Little Simz AKA Simbi Ajikawo has already toured with Gorillaz and Anderson .Paak and now releases her third album to date. This pioneering hip-hop artist has broken out of her home conurbation of North London and is living out her dreams with her energetic performances and critically acclaimed albums.
Vinyl LP £17.49 AGE101001LP
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In this post-Kendrick Lamar world it feels like every other rapper is trying to be an auteur. So many of the new hip-hop records to have emerged since 'To Pimp A Butterfly' (arguably since 'Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City') lean into weighty ideas about concept and aesthetic vision.
Little Simz’s third LP Grey Area may not display the same dizzying sense of holisticism as an 'Astroworld' or 'Flamagra', but if anything this is a good thing - in the midst of all these sprawling opuses, a taut ten-track album that barely gets beyond the 35-minute-mark feels easier to digest.
The London MC takes after Lamar in the focus she displays here - both in the bars she writes and the clear, precise way she delivers them. Even on ‘Venom’, a track in which Simz spits at a speed that would make Twista blush, her flow never falters. This dependability helps to anchor Grey Area’s varied beats, a melange that ranges from Londonist road-hop (‘101 FM’) to the snap and sear of clipping. (‘Boss’). Given all this, it’s no surprise to find out that Simz has been singled out for praise by Kung-Fu Kenny himself.
Grey Area’s guest spots take the edge off of the record’s occasionally caustic sound. After two harsh, raggedy openers, Cleo Sol’s buttery cooing on ‘Selfish’ eases us into one of the record’s more lush and introspective tracks. Chronixx elevates the pain at the heart of ‘Wounds’ into a soulful koan. The give-and-take between the Littles Simz and Dragon on ‘Pressure’ is one of Grey Area’s most nakedly Lamar-indebted moments, the rapper’s quicksilver bars darting around a hybrid neo-soul/hip-hop beat at once languid and on edge. The addition of Michael Kiwanuka’s churchy baritone on closer ‘Flowers’ ends Grey Area in a way that echoes ‘Blessings (Reprise)’, the spiritualized love-in that closes out Chance The Rapper’s 'Coloring Book'.
It’s early days yet, but Little Simz’s third LP 'Grey Area' may stand as the MC’s crowning achievement. However, when you’ve got talent like this only a fool would bet against Little Simz having a few more great records in her.
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