New Musical Express (NME) - 100 Based on rating 5/5
London MC Simbi Ajikawo has come true on her early promise with this confident and unapologetic album, the best rap record of the year so far Fiercely confident and unapologetically forthright, the stunning new album from Little Simz is a reminder of her bold - and, sadly, sometimes underrated - talent. With punching bass lines and whip-smart melodies, 25-year-old Simbi Ajikawo takes us on a wild ride through her world, laying her vulnerability bare with admirable openness. The London rapper has been co-signed Kendrick Lamar and was the first independent artist on Forbes' '30 under 30' list already.
The young Londoner uses the opener as a welcome back to fans and an ear-grabbing introduction to new listeners, with her flow and lyrics brimming with an irresistible self-belief. The hypnotic drums and rumbling bass perfectly match slick lines like "I'm Jay-Z on a bad day, Shakespeare on my worst days" and by the end of this album you are definitely starting to believe her. GREY Area is the rapper's third studio album and arrives at a pivotal point in her career.
Little Simz is still seeking a sense of direction on her wondrous new album GREY Area. The "grey area" in question is her mid-20s, a "strange place" she's eager to navigate through and out of, by the sound of it. "I just wrote the album from a place of confusion," the rapper born Simbi Ajikawo recently told Noisey, making the uncertainty of a quarter-life crisis seem like navigating the fog of war.
4 years after Simbi Ajikawo declared "Everybody should know that I'm king now" on the defiant opener to 'A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons', it seems like things haven't changed much - and she wants you that. "Me again, and I'm here to pick up where I left off", she growls on 'Offence' over a rumbling beat and the sharp stabs of jazz flutes as 'GREY Area' gets under way. Little Simz has always dabbled in the realm of the conceptual.
Little Simz has come a long way since 2014, when she released a number of EPs that earnt her acclaim from some the music industry's most recognised figures. Her mixtape titled 'Blank Canvas' garnered support from Jay Z as well as Gillles Peterson - who crowned her breakthrough artist of the year at his Worldwide Awards 2015. What's most admirable about little Simz, though, is how she's developed from an MC into a true artist.
Our twenties are an aching tug between adolescence and adulthood; a hard-to-define era with a malaise that's difficult to pinpoint, yet well-captured in music and art. It's both cavernous and oppressive, as we reach for what is us, or us in motion. Is this a personality trait, or a passing fancy? A staunch ideal or a feeling in transition? Little Simz' third studio album, Grey Area, sees her swing confidently through the duality of youth to harness the harshest of her vulnerable, raw moments, and the best savage, wisdom-weaponry, giving each reflection on herself pride and place on this record.
O n her third album, the famously introverted north Londoner Simbi Ajikawo reaches outwards. Gloriously self-assured and grounded, Grey Area feels fuller than her myriad EPs and two preceding albums. She frees herself from self-consciousness on opener Offence, with "I said it with my chest / and I don't care who I offend" setting the tone. Even though the language of emancipation has been cynically co-opted by brands, Simz's call to arms feels real, visceral and rousing.