Little Simz has been on an absolute tear lately. She released her third LP, Grey Area, in 2019 to critical acclaim (and a spot on our best-of-year list), followed it up with a formidable six-track EP, appropriately titled Drop 6, and sprinkled in a few rock-solid guest verses in between. Her latest, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, comes at a weirdly unfortunate time: After months of delays, two of rap’s biggest and most temperamental figureheads released their anticipated albums this week—Kanye’s DONDA dropped on Sunday, and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy is out today, with Simz ending up unwittingly sandwiched between them. Going up against the two biggest releases of the year might spell doom for most rappers; thankfully, Little Simz isn’t most rappers. She’s one of the best working today, and her new album bolsters that claim. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is as ambitious and intimate as anything the North-London MC has ever done, and an easy contender for the best rap album of the year, let alone the week.
On Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (the title is an expansion of “Simbi,” Simz’s family nickname) Little Simz explores the tension between deciding how much of yourself to give the world and how much to keep. In an interview with The Guardian, she said about the album, “It’s me being this introverted person that has all these crazy thoughts and ideas and theories in my head and not always feeling like I’m able to express it if it’s not through my art.” That tension is all over tracks like album opener “Introvert,” where Simz raps about trying to balance her personal, political, and artistic desires (“Parts of the world still living in apartheid / But if I don’t takе this winner’s flight, that’s career suicide”), or “I Love You/I Hate You,” where Simz reveals a contentious relationship with her father (“My ego won’t fully allow me to say that I miss you / A woman who hasn’t confronted all her daddy issues”).
At 19 tracks and just over an hour long, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert trades the minimalist approach of Simz’s two previous projects for the scope of something like her second studio album, Stillness In Wonderland. But where that record veered into unfocused territory at times, SIMBI is more killer than filler. Simz raps with purpose and ferocity about racial politics, womanhood, and the challenges of artistic expression, while regular collaborator Inflo gives her plenty of room to spread out on the lush soundscapes he creates. He bounces effortlessly from extravagant, orchestral compositions (“Introvert,” “I Love You/I Hate You”) to laid-back neo-soul (“Woman,” “I See You”) on the album’s first half, while expanding to include influences from electro-funk (“Protect My Energy”), African pop (“Point And Kill,” “Fear No Man”) and hard-hitting grime (“Rolling Stone”) on the back half. Simz, showcasing the remarkable versatility of her vocals, always sounds at home on the album.
SIMBI’s only glaring weaknesses are its spoken-word interludes, performed by a surprise Emma Corrin (who played Diana, Princess of Wales on The Crown). They effectively act as Simz’s inner monologue but often inelegantly reiterate or preempt the album’s themes. They’re not all bad—the choral chant that closes “The Rapper That Came To Tea (Interlude)” is a standout moment—but when side-by-side with some of the most dynamic music Simz has ever made, they can feel weirdly out of place. Still, their presence isn’t enough to derail the rest of the album. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert remains an exciting addition to the North Londoner’s growing catalog. Now, if only the rest of the industry would take notice.