UK rapper Little Simz works from home to summon power, dreaminess, and dread on Drop 6 | Music Review | Chicago Reader

UK rapper Little Simz works from home to summon power, dreaminess, and dread on Drop 6 

click to enlarge Little Simz

Little Simz

Tam Cader

British rapper Simbi Ajikawo, who records as Little Simz, jumps right into your ears with her distinctive beats and fluid style on “Might Bang, Might Not,” the first song on the new Drop 6. “You ain’t seen no one like me since / Lauryn Hill in the 90s, bitch,” she raps, laying down the law to anyone who might question her abilities or commitment. “I am a one-woman army / I am the force that we speak of.” Born in London to Nigerian parents, the 26-year-old Ajikawo has been putting out music since she was a teenager, starting with the self-released 2010 mixtape Stratosphere. In 2014, she embarked on the Drops series of EPs (on her own Age 101 imprint), inspired in part by the experimental eclecticism of her early mixtapes—they combine a relatively minimal approach to production with raw lyrics and snippets of musical thoughts. Ajikawo put the finishing touches on Drop 6 in April, while staying alone in her London home due to COVID-19 concerns. Its five songs retain some of the fiery elements of Little Simz’s 2019 LP Grey Area, where her quick-witted lyrics portray her as a force working against any lovers and power structures that might try to slow her roll. But on the new EP, dreaminess and dread creep into her songs: if she was a superheroine on Grey Area, then on Drop 6 she’s her slightly more mild-mannered alter ego, just trying to fit in with the humans. On the EP’s last song, “Where’s My Lighter?,” Little Simz gives herself a progress review: “In this world we need balance / I’m here nurturing my talent.” She’s joined on this track by fellow Londoner Alewya, whose hazy voice adds eeriness to an understated beat punctuated by keyboard riffs. The songs on Drop 6 are full of racing thoughts about relationships and responsibility, disrupted by moments of confusion provoked by the unseen forces that prevent us from leaving home. It's an entirely relatable journey as we all navigate the pandemic.   v

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