This Little Simz article was written by Sam Forsdick, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Josh Hummerston
The first track on A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons contains the battle cry, “Women can be kings.” It is a statement that shows Little Simz’s unwillingness to bow to critics or to conform to gender stereotypes but ultimately it is a declaration of ambition; Simz won’t stop until she is crowned king. The lyric redefines the word ‘king’ and, in doing so, creates a new space for female Hip Hop artists – one that focuses on talent and places them on a par with their male counterparts. It is through lyrics like this that Little Simz shows there is room for a more thoughtful, lyrical style in a British rap scene that is currently dominated by grime.
The confidence of Simz is palpable on A Curious Tale. On ‘Persons’ she attacks the verses reciting those that had told her “The industry will break you”. This trend continues on ‘Wings’ – one of the standout tracks – where Simz continues to quash the doubters with lyrics such as “This the type of music that ain’t never gonna sell? Well, shouldn’t never ever tell me that”. On the entirety of the album Little Simz proves she has the lyrical dexterity to back up the bold statements of the opening tracks.
It is a traditional hip hop album in the sense that it has few hooks, instead focusing on the sharp lyricism of Simz. The sparse, atmospheric beats elevate her work giving Simz a fresh and unique sound. The production, provided by her Space Age and Age 101 affiliates, is therefore an unsung strength of the album. Sometimes based around delicate piano chords or faint strings, these humble beginnings are then built upon or subverted as vocal samples and heavy basslines are added to the mix. It makes for a distinctive sound and it is all the more impressive that Simz flows with ease over every beat.
Simz has stated that Trials is a concept album , however the concept fails to stretch far from her own experiences as a growing artist and the trappings of fame. The subjects of each song are, at times self involved, but remain relatable to any aspiring artist. The track ‘God Bless Mary’, for example, acts as an apology to Simz’s neighbour who has put up years of her music booming through their dividing wall.
Despite A Curious Tale being an album that focuses on the rise of an aspiring artist and the problems associated with the steady growth in fame Little Simz boasts fans in high places. Some of the biggest names in hip hop, including Kendrick Lamar, Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), and Jay Z, were singing her praises long before her debut dropped. Despite the numerous offers of co-signs that this attention has brought Little Simz opted to create the album on her own terms, making and releasing her music independently via her own label. Now the album has finally been released Simz has gone a long way to showing why such big names are backing her and has justified the confidence she has in her own projects. If her follow up is as creative and impressive as A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons it surely won’t be long before Little Simz is crowned a king.
A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is out now via Age 101.