By Oscar Ross, First Year History
Having consolidated her sound after GREY Area, which went to UK R&B Number 1 back in March 2019, her fourth full-length album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert sees Little Simz develop her R&B and rap styles while exploring new musical avenues.
This exploration is evident in the 80’s pop sound of ‘Protect my Energy’, in which Simz doesn’t rap at all – instead showcasing her voice in a catchy, synth flooded bop. Simz still however showcases her rapping ability, spanning from chilled out, drawling alt-rap flows on tracks ‘Two Worlds Apart’ and ‘I See You’ – developing the chilled-out rap style from her 2016 album Stillness in Wonderland – to the hard and fast bars on trappier songs ‘Rollin Stone’, the darkest sounding track on the album, and ‘Speed’, which feature overdriven vocals reminiscent of GREY Area.
Simz also celebrates her Nigerian heritage; Nigerian singer Obongjayar features on the track ‘Point to Kill’, seamlessly followed by ‘Fear No Man’. These songs carry the distinct, vibrant feel of traditional Nigerian music with natural chant-like vocals and rich, multi-rhythmic drums.
The album is strung together by a series of five interludes. Three of these (‘Gems’, ‘The Rapper that Came to Tea’, ‘The Garden’) are delivered by Emma Corrin, who portrayed Princess Diana in The Crown. Corrin delivers spoken word addresses to Simz as a type of fairy godmother, amidst dramatic orchestral waves. The inclusion of so many interludes, however, seems unnecessary – although they are consistent in maintaining the albums introverted concept, these interludes don’t further the themes that Simz already addresses in her bars.
The other two interludes are not as dramatized or fantastical as those delivered by Corrin. ‘Little Q Pt.1’ features a child’s voice that continues into ‘Little Q Pt.2’, while Simz’s cousin Q delivers a prayer of forgiveness; an intimate touch of Simz’s personal life to the album, ‘Little Q Pt.1’ provides easier listening.
Standout track ‘Woman’ featuring long-time collaborator Cleo Sol is described by Simz as a ‘Love letter to women’ – a celebration of womanhood where Simz reaches out to women across both her personal life and the globe. The song provides a captivating musical take on gender, with luscious imagery celebrating Simz’s perspective of what it means to be a woman. It provides an oasis of female unity via Simz’s own personal story amidst the over-politicised minefield of the modern industry, without seeming overly formulated or marketed.
As seen in GREY Area, especially on the track ‘Venom’, Simz has mastered conveying her struggle as a female rapper in a male-dominated genre rife with misogyny, through harsh and powerful music. ‘Woman’, however, uses that same struggle to create a song of unity and beauty in a poetic and suave manner.
Themes of romance are meanwhile addressed on ‘Two Worlds Apart’, a melancholic tale of two people drifting apart, accentuated by a chopped Smokey Robinson sample, as well as on ‘I See You’, where lullaby-sounding guitars backdrop Simz’s questionings on being accepted for one’s flaws and failings. Themes of self-questioning are continued on ‘Introvert’, ‘I Love You, I Hate You’ and ‘Standing Ovation’, with grand orchestral instrumentation and harsher flows. Simz speaks of success, confidence and power while also addressing the struggles of being introverted.
The close of the album sees a decline from the exciting, ‘Point to Kill’ and ‘Fear No Man’ to the last three tracks, ‘The Garden’, another Corrin interlude, and two piano tunes. On ‘How Did You Get Here’ Simz’s flows, although carrying important commentary on her come up and struggle in music, feel low energy, with the piano and group vocals lacking the edge that was so rich in the earlier tracks. ‘Miss Understood’ contains some great flows from Simz with interesting vocal production on the hook, however, while being a good finisher, it is undercut by ‘How Did You Get Here’ which doesn’t carry the momentum of the album to its finish.
Despite an overpopulation of interludes that tend to force its theme, Sometimes I May Be Introvert promises both new, exciting sounds and classic Simz style tunes alongside Simz’s personal musings about love, social interaction, and self-confidence.
Featured image: Age 101
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