Little Simz in Sometimes I Might Be Introvert continues to surprise us with her ever-changing discography. Simbiatu “Simbi” Ajikawo, also known as Little Simz, clearly wanted to move away from the forthcoming, strong societal messages she expressed in her last album, GREY Area; she does this by making her internal thoughts and conflicting doubts the main narrative of the album.
The inclusion of five different interludes, the reconnection to family heritage, and assessing society’s view of womanhood makes for a profound view of both national and gender identity. While her 2017 album Stillness in Wonderland utilises interludes as a story narrative, the tone in Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is not self-deprecating in the slightest — every track oozes self-love, acceptance and positivity in spite of her conflicting relationship with her introversion. Moreover, letting go of anger is another theme in this album; despite Simbi’s absent relationship with her father, as shown by the fourth song of the album, ‘I Love You, I Hate You’, she chooses forgiveness when she states that “I’m forgivin’ for me”.
Her first song, ‘Introvert’ shows that she is tired of maintaining an extroverted, angry and resilient exterior — her choice to forgive her father is a choice to allow vulnerability into her life. However, powerful cuts such as ‘Standing Ovation’ and ‘Protect My Energy’ tell us that introversion is not a weakness. One of the interludes, ‘The Rapper That Came To Tea’ uses a feminine voice which stresses directly to Simbi that the “mind is the most powerful tool”. Overall, it is clear that Little Simz wants to take us on a journey through her path to self-acceptance as an introvert, within an industry that demands confidence and extroversion.
The stark contrast between the dark, unsaturated cover of her last album, GREY Area, and the bright, warm colours of this album shows us two sides of the same coin. It is easy to see parallels with Michael Kiwanuka’s album Kiwanuka — the warm colours, the affinity to their African heritage, as well as a personal account of one’s own personality and a homage to black power. As Kiwanuka features in GREY Area, the respect they have for each other is very clear.
Moreover, Simz particularly shows her Nigerian heritage with her songs ‘Point and Kill’ featuring Obongjayar, a Nigerian R&B musician based in London. Simz switches from her London accent to Nigerian English, using the phrase ‘Point and Kill’ – a popularised Nigerian term for literally pointing and killing fish in a market – as a metaphor for her own ability to assert strength and power to the world. Also, ‘Fear No Man’ stems beautifully from ‘Point and Kill’ and also shows us that assertiveness and introversion are not antonyms. Little Simz beautifully uses parts of her heritage to further a message which she holds close to heart.
The track ‘Two Worlds Apart’ exemplifies her influences from artists like Kendrick Lamar and Princess Nokia for their own use of rolling, rhythmic lyrics and changes in rap tempos — Lamar’s respect for Little Simz’ work is no secret, with Lamar saying himself that Little Simz is the ‘illest doing it right now’. The backing vocals, particularly in ‘Woman’, reminds me a lot of Arlo Parks’ 2021 album Collapsed In Sunbeams for the soft and feminine tones which Little Simz is trying to express in this album. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert continues to show the inspiration from her early influences, Missy Elliott and Lauryn Hill, maintaining her power as a black woman in the hip-hop industry. The amount of respect towards her artistic influences is always clear in every album she comes out with.
It is easy to see why Little Simz is so respected in both UK hip-hop and elsewhere — she continues to defy expectations and shows that vulnerability is not synonymous with powerlessness. The use of grand backing vocals, orchestral sounds, and a narrative that amplifies feminine power are all signs of a sincere and successful work of art.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz was released on 3 September 2021.
Words by Brooke Cadwell
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