Little Simz and Inflo's collaboration is a jazz-rap masterwork in the vein of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly.
From its opening, which consists of ‘50s film noir-esque orchestral rolls, choirs and falling synthesisers before falling back to a more traditional hip-hop beat, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert states its own importance and scale.
Seemingly taking a leaf out of the book of the fantastic Kae Tempest, another great in the current U.K. hip-hop scene, the album is something of an odyssey through the modern, politically distraught area of London and England in general. It explores both the problems in the country as a whole at the same time as their personal impacts and the personal problems of our guide on this journey, in this case, the fantastically talented 27 year old Little Simz.
Having made her start in the early 2010s before really gaining traction in the last year of that decade with the release of her great record Grey Area, which was helped along by the feature of the single ‘Venom’ on U.K. gangster/social realism show Top Boy. Clearly using this boom in her personal stardom to its full advantage, her new record Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a wonderful merging of funk, soul, hip-hop, poetry and jazz. Simz skips between these genres from track to track with apparent ease (or more so the illusion of ease – Simz makes everything appear effortless in her often laid back approach, like on the gorgeous third track ‘Two Worlds Apart’).
Produced by Inflo, the songs have an intensely rich texture to them, crisp samples tying perfectly to the epic backing from choirs and orchestral instruments and the constant changes of the beats really give this album the feel of something expensive, thought out and intricate – a similar feeling to other records this grand like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly (which seems to be an influence on this project and Simz’s work generally). Every track sees Simz dig deep and the world of Inflo’s production appear to grow. Simz is just brilliant, writing and delivering beautiful and poetic verses throughout.
A personal favourite would be on ‘Little Q, Pt. 2’, which sees Simz talk from the perspective of a stabbing victim and empathising with the boy who stabbed her, saying that she understands ‘the reflection that he hated, the part of him he wishes God didn’t waste time creating, the broken homes in which we’re coming from’, offering understanding where most would only have anger to give. It’s one of the most deeply moving moments on the record, which is full of such points, as Simz discusses her past struggles and, from time to time, her future hopes (‘Protect My Energy’ has some great lines on the positive side including the repeated mantra ‘I got problems, but I’m not f*ckin’ weak’.)
Simz certainly lives up to her words on ‘Speed’ when she says over Inflo’s chaotic drum, bass and synth beat that ‘I make winnings out of any loss’, making it clearer than ever that the UK hip-hop revival is here to stay for quite some time. A beautiful, spiritual record was much needed, and thankfully hip-hop seems to keep delivering these lately. It just happens that Simz’s is the best in quite some time, speaking honestly and introspectively about her own struggles whilst connecting them to far larger themes and transitioning perfectly to the more relaxed or motivational hits.
For an album with so much range within, it is impressively consistent and has a feeling of constant movement that most artists fail to capture for one song, never mind 19 in a row.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, distributed by Age 101, is on streaming services now. Listen to the great opening track, ‘Introvert’, below: