Album Review: Little Simz’s ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’
By: Mies Allen
My first encounter with Little Simz was incidental. In 2017, my friend and I traveled three hours to Brighton to see Gorillaz on their Humanz tour. Neither of us paid any attention to who the support act would be until we were standing in the crowd, two rows from the front, and a stranger asked us who would be opening the show. We looked, and replied nonchalantly, that it would be Little Simz. The stranger, however, said she had heard good things; that Little Simz had been an up-and-coming artist for a while, and that she’d heard a few songs from Stillness in Wonderland that had been released a year prior to the concert. This piqued our interest, but it did not prepare me for the three-year love affair with Little Simz that I was about to fall into that night.
Little Simz is an electric performer. Confident in front of a crowd, funky, and engaging, I have never seen an audience warm-up to a support act so quickly, in fact, when she returned later on in the evening to rap over Gorillaz’ single Garage Palace, she was welcomed as though she were the main event.
It did not surprise me, therefore, that after years of growing artistry and popularity around the UK, Little Simz gained traction worldwide when the tantalizing lyrics from Venom off her 2019 album Grey Area went viral on TikTok: ‘Pussy, you sour, never giving credit where it’s due ‘cos you don’t like pussy in power.’
Little Simz, whose real name is Simbiatu ‘Simbi’ Ajikawo, has the natural gift of lyricism—something that seems to become more refined with every project she releases. However, when I first sat down to listen to her recently released fourth studio album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (2021), I was taken to a whole new place. From the very opening of the album, we are catapulted into a grandiose ensemble of marching drums, teasing that we are about to be treated to an epic, vulnerable journey into Simbi’s soul—something she delivers with every song.
There is something special about the introductory song on this album, Introvert. Not only is the music hauntingly beautiful (a swirling and orchestral combination of drums, violins, and Cleo Sol’s vocals), but the lyrics encapsulate the album’s themes—government corruption, struggles with the past, and Simz’ unique experiences as a British-Nigerian woman. The song closes with the first of many of Emma Corrin’s monologues that are peppered throughout the album, acting as the guiding voice to Simbi, and giving the album an Alice in Wonderland-style whimsy. The last lines of the song are particularly striking, with Corrin reciting, ‘Alone, but not lonely / Your truth unveils with time / As you embark on a journey / Of what it takes to be a woman.’ This condenses the album’s significance into one simple line.
This album feels like a love letter to black womanhood. Not only is Little Simz navigating a genre of music dominated by men, but she has also grown up as a black woman with immigrant parents in the UK. In this album, she shares this unique perspective with the world.
Little Simz discusses life in deprived areas of London, the stabbing of her cousin, her tumultuous relationship with her father, and the loss of friends. This gives the album an extreme level of cultural significance as the U.K. is living in a period of extreme political divide, over-policing of black communities, a rise in crime and unemployment levels, and discrimination against women and people of color.
However, the gravity of the messages in Little Simz’s lyrics can be felt all over the world, particularly as the Black Lives Matter movement has grown and the world continues to fight for an end to racism. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a zeitgeist of the times we are living in, and
has the power to go down in history as one of the most significant albums of this generation.
You can learn more about Little Simz’ experiences with writing Sometimes I Might Be Introvert and her inspiration behind the project here: