Little Simz’s new single ‘I Love You, I Hate You’ is a powerful insight into the conflicting feelings she has about her father. It is clear that she has had years to process these feelings, yet reaching no conclusive decision about how she feels.
The interchanging of the words “I love you, I hate you” almost mirrors the childhood games we play with daisy petals: “He loves me, he loves me not”. It also invokes Hamlet’s soliloquy when he says: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” ‘I Love You, I Hate You’ is an audiovisual walk through Little Simz’s still very raw confusion. The rawness is reflected in the fact that it isn’t Little Simz herself that utters this phrase.
The vocals are accompanied by a portrait of Little Simz’s childhood. She talks about having a high emotional threshold for pain and being in denial about how much her relationship with her father causes pain: “Your pain threshold will determine if you survive / I’m amazed by it / lying to myself, pretending I was never phased by it / maybe because you’re in my DNA, that’s why”.
Exactly halfway through the accompanying music video, the portrait artist Jeremy Ngatho Cole paints over Little Simz’s head, adding a crown. Little Simz appears to begin to master her emotions towards her dad, albeit fleetingly. She says: “Only through speech can we let go of this dead weight / used to avoid getting into how I really feel about this now I see / how fickle life can be and so it can’t wait”. The repetition of the lines expressing love and hate are changed to: “Always I love you / but right now I hate you”. She begins to distinguish the different natures of her love and hate for her father. She describes her love as long-standing in spite of her present hatred for him, which she indirectly suggests will pass.
In the concluding verses of the song Little Simz reflects on what this emotional tornado has taught her about life and those she started out living it with first. People are not always honest, no matter who they are to you. Unrealistic expectations of people can stir up anger in us when the inevitable unfolds and they fail. Remembering everyone’s humanity and humanising your heroes makes your troubled emotional waters still again. She reminds herself that her dad was once a boy, before he was her father and she wanted to be her hero. Most importantly she reminds herself she has forgiven him and more for her sake than his: “I’m not forgiving for you man I’m forgiving for me”.
Though our challenging family dynamics can leave us in a state of confusion about our feelings towards absent or present members, we are left with some choices. Little Simz explores the choice to love and hate her father, as well as forgive him for his failings, in order to set herself free. Forgiveness can truly set us free though it doesn’t erase the memories. We just learn to master their impact on us.
Words by Solape Alatise
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