With a total of 4 mixtapes and 5 EP’s already under her belt, 21 year old rapper Little Simz (Simbi Ajikawo) is not an artist who has merely stepped on stage; she knows how to work the lights. Simz is not someone to put herself in a box though, her interests span from humanitarianism to entrepreneurship and this inherent ambition certainly carries through onto this album.
Simz isn’t without her backers, being championed from every corner of hip hop by aficionados like Kendrick Lamar, Stormzy and Jay Z. With this debut, it isn’t hard to imagine why. Clocking in at 35 minutes, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome and the dedication to her distinctively British sound is admirable; A Curious Tale doesn’t try to snatch at radio play or the lowest common hip hop denominator. Released on her self-starter label, AGE 101 (named in reference to her collaborative ‘SPACE AGE’ project), the mission statement of this album has been clear from day one – conquer on her own terms.
With her outer-world moniker comes an equally spacey ensemble. The instrumentation of this album, while varied and deceptively complex, plays second-fiddle to a natural word play that is both playful and thoughtful (“This isn’t rocket science/It’s a game-boy”). Simz takes full advantage of her dynamic voice which cuts through at every occasion and her singing has a modicum of technicality rarely mustered by MC’s. Her lazy delivery on ‘Tainted’, a song about being jaded by excessive fame, gives a sense of genuine impartiality and disinterest. However it is the intense scatter-brain ferocity of the sensational track ‘Dead Body’, which exhilarates from start to finish and undoubtedly justifies the title of ‘King Simbi’, even if it does leave you, heart-in-hand, begging for more.
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