6 Apr 2024

Review: Drop 7 by Little Simz

From The Sampler, 2:30 pm on 6 April 2024
Little Simz

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For a long time hip-hop was a solely American art form, which is easy to forget now that it’s so well established in countries around the globe. If you had to pick a runner up it would be the UK, and for the last five years one of the scene’s stars has been Little Simz.

She won a Brit Award and the Mercury Prize for her album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, and has nominations pending this year for the album No Thank You.

Not one to muck around, she’s already followed that one up with a new EP, which sees her not resting on her laurels, but pushing into new creative territory.

This release is called Drop 7, the latest in a series of stopgap EPs that Simz has put out between albums. Her last few LPs were produced by Inflo of the collective Sault, leaning into orchestration and live instruments. Here that credit goes to Jakwob, a club producer who recently composed the score to the film How to Have Sex.

Together they draw influence from genres like Baile funk. On ‘Fever’ Simz even raps in Portuguese, the primary language of that music’s country of origin, Brazil.

The track ‘Torch’ is the closest we get to a typical Simz cut, vocally, but she’s still housed in sparse electro production. The lower delivery of her raps there is how she typically sounds on record, but throughout Drop 7 she slips into a higher, softer cadence. On ‘SOS’ she pops up for one airy verse, the centrepiece of what is otherwise a Brazilian-tinged instrumental.

Little Simz had a cameo in one of Tom Hardy’s Venom movies, and plays a role on the show Top Boy. These appearances might seem unlikely for someone who calls herself an introvert, but then so is releasing an EP of bass-heavy club tunes and reinventing her vocal style.

Lyrically too, she’s unencumbered here, reeling off flights of fancy rather than the heavier material that defines her full-length releases.

It all feels easy, but not disposable, and the biggest surprise comes at Drop 7’s end, when she deploys her singing voice for an entire song. ‘Far Away’ contains the line “my pillow recalls your name”, and it’s easy to guess what it’s about. A lovelorn ballad isn’t what we’ve come to expect from Simz, but she keeps proving she’s malleable beyond anyone's expectations.