Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Age 101
Try telling Little Simz that women can't be kings. The 21-year-old swiftly knocks the notion away on opener 'Persons' with the declaration, "Everybody knows that I'm king now". She's got the boxing gloves on here, all aggression-fuelled lyrics over bold, clanging drums, before expressing her softer side as she explores the consequences of fame on floating soother 'The Lights'.Youthful confidence shines through on 'Tainted' ("Always knew I'd be in this position where I'm killing it") and fair play to her.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Little Simz isn't willing to compromise for anyone. It's what makes the 21-year-old North London artist so irrepressibly and unabashedly essential. And that's precisely why her debut album A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is the most multifaceted and masterful contemporary feminist rap album of recent memory.
Faced with the dual handicaps of gender bias and a foreign accent, Little Simz has fought an uphill battle for stateside recognition. Without much to rely on in the way of big name cosigns, the 21-year-old UK upstart has been forced to think on her feet in order to stand out. Using the web’s wealth of promotional resources (such as SoundCloud and Bandcamp) and taking on the SXSW stage this past spring, she has steadily teased her potential to release a breakout debut.
Little Simz, the rapper from North London born Simbi Ajikawo, is starlike in many ways, including a strict one: having dropped eight mixtapes since 2013, she burns off energy at a colossal, dangerous rate. A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is Little Simz’s first full-length album, and it marks a change from the catholic, unfurling experiments in her mixtapes. This is a tense, terse concept album: The tracks roll forward in one dark, uniform palette, each providing a different answer to a single line of questioning, as laid out by Simz in the opening track.
Endorsed by Kendrick Lamar and published on Jay-Z’s Life and Times site, 21-year-old Little Simz has already received more attention than most north London MCs. A Curious Tale concerns itself with the tests faced by a rising rapper: “This is the sort of shit that ain’t ever going to sell,” she says on Gratitude. God Bless Mary, which pays tribute to the neighbour who had to listen to her in her formative moments, includes the line: “I know it don’t mean shit to you if I go global.” It’s clear that Simz wants to put her talents as an MC to some use beyond braggadocio; at some points she is reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, at other times Eminem, or even Drake.
The ability to live life confidently and on one's own terms is at the core of the debut album from London rapper Little Simz. Practically every bar the 21-year-old spits is full of fiery indignation, aimed not just at exposing (and undermining) entrenched social hierarchies, but at the insecurities that might also hold her back. Her willingness to look inward on dense verses with such focused intensity and technical ambition would be thrilling even if she were content to just stunt on her own wordplay.