If someone was to ask me who had the better album, Kanye West with Donda or Drake with Certified Lover Boy, I would sit back, raise my cup of tea and answer: Little Simz, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. With the follow up to the critically lauded Grey Area, released in 2019, Little Simz’s fourth album is her most ambitious and experimental yet. Produced by her childhood friend Inflo (who produced Grey Area and is the founding member of the enigmatic SAULT collective), Sometimes I Might Be Introvert cements Little Simz, as one of the UK’s most creative and inspiring artists.
Kendrick Lamar referred to Simz as “one of the illest doing it right now,” Stormzy called her a legend at his Glastonbury headline set in 2019, and her musical icon, Lauryn Hill, brought Simz along as a special guest during her Diaspora Calling! Tour in 2016. Simz was considered underrated by many of her critics however this all changed with the release of Grey Area which won her an Ivor Novello award along with NME’s Best British Album Award in 2020. Critically and artistically, Simz had made it, it is only the UK audiences that needed to catch up.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is Simz’s most honest work to date. The idea of the album crystallised during the COVID-19 lockdown, where Simz, real name Simbiatu Ajikawo, battled with the idea of bravado in the UK hip hop scene and the honesty that she wanted to share. The introspective flow of the album reveals that there are two sides to every story, in this case, the bombastic vs the hushed. Shorten Sometimes I Might Be Introvert to an acronym and you get SIMBI, which is Simz’s nickname to her closest friends. Simbi is a part of Little Simz.
The album can be said to be split into two narratives: one side being Little Simz and the other side being Simbi. The two sides both need to take the limelight, they both need to speak. Both Simz and Simbi have a kaleidoscope of truths and experiences that need to be heard. The opening track Introvert launches itself with a thunderous sound of drums and an orchestral strut that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rocky montage. Simz sounds fierce and determined as she raps “I hate that these conversations are surfaced / Simz the artist or Simbi the person? / To you I’m smiling but really I’m hurting.” The arrangements are clear and confident; cascading horns and strings punctuate Simz’s words as she confides in us what she is truly thinking. We witness the vulnerability of Simbi.
Woman is laid-back anthem about female black empowerment within her community. The song is positive in its verses and builds women up whilst never being condescending. There is no preaching tone but one of a friend; a quiet, confident mumble that grooves along nicely to rhythmic melody. ‘Woman’ wouldn’t feel out of place on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; Little Q, Pt. 2 as well would also fit perfectly in Hill’s discography, although the lyrics are more sombre as Simz speaks to a cousin who was stabbed on the streets of London. She doesn’t blame the assailant; she identifies with him and blames the environment they share, as well as the lack of role models available to them. They both could have walked the same path; both are the victims.
Tracks are beautifully produced; Standing Ovation deserves a mention as Simz raps against a triumphant orchestra reflected in triumphant lyrics. Simz uses a more direct approach in this song; she is self-assured and knows her place in history, she knows her role is to the pave the way for future generations. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a call to the future, Simz is battling with where she should be and the person she should be. Rollin Stone is pure Little Simz, Simbi takes a back seat; confident, assured, and powerful. The track showcases why Simz is considered to be the top of grime. A hypnotic beat and a presence that never leaves makes this one of her best.
The political undertones of Sometimes I Might Be Introvert are never forced upon us, they creep up on us in a conversational manner that requires us to listen. The nineteen tracks are punctuated throughout with Emma Corin, who adopts her Princess Diana persona of The Crown. Corin acts as a fairy Godmother to Simz, guiding her when she feels lost, bestowing upon her positive affirmations. Corin remarks how diamonds are made with pressure; everything that Simz has gone through will make her shine.