North Londoner Simbi Ajikawo, better known as Little Simz, has already created an prolific body of impressive work, including seven EPs, four mixtapes and a critically acclaimed debut album. Her bars cast a sharp, intelligent eye across a deeply personal landscape, chewing up industry sexism and going deep into her own fears, playing by no rules except her own.
Simz’ staunch belief in herself as a young, black woman (‘women can be kings’ is her ongoing motto) and experimentation with the instrumentals that frame her lyrics – from squalling guitar to haunting, swirling synths – have won fans in Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, A$AP Rocky and Jay Z, and more importantly, given her a vital freedom. In fact, the 21-year-old recently made Forbes’ 30 under 30 list – the first independent UK rapper to do so.
Simz’ autonomy has released her from stale gender stereotypes (“I’m not a UK female MC, I’m an artist,” she told The Guardian) and music industry expectations, which in turn is allowing her to create some of the most important music in Britain and hip hop right now.
Text Taylor Glasby