The 26-year-old independent artist has been living in the midst of a whirlwind since dropping Stillness in Wonderland, her second full-length album (and 11th release in total), in December 2016. Lauded by the Guardian and Pitchfork, the album earned Simz – real name Simbi Ajikawo – two AIM (her debut album won AIM ‘Album of the Year’ 2016) and two MOBO award nominations in 2017. In the same year, she curated a day festival at the Roundhouse, and joined Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz as the main support act on their global Humanztour.
Simz is no stranger to success. By the time she was 21, Kendrick Lamar had called her “one of the illest doing it right now”, and she was the first independent UK artist to ever be listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30. But in 2017, she experienced some of the loneliness and pressure that can come with forging an international career entirely on your own – and it was from this darker, more personal space that her greatest project yet began to take shape. On “Grey Area” – which earned her her first Mercury Music Prize nomination – the instrumentation brims with flutes, guitars, funky basslines, and palpitating strings, and is already hailed as one of the albums of the year, as confirmed by a top 10 placing in Metacritic’s best reviewed albums of 2019. Its status as one of the most ubiquitous albums of the summer is consolidated by all three of the singles being playlisted by Radio 1, 6Music and 1Xtra – a rare and stunning hat trick indeed. She has also played some of the most vital festivals this summer, including Primavera Sound, Glastonbury (2nd from headline) and All Points East. Indeed, there’s just no slowing Little Simz down. She’s currently working with the iconic likes of Chemical Brothers, Chance the Rapper, Not3s, not to mention she’s set to conquer Netflix too when she appears in the main cast in the hotly anticipated new season of the Drake-produced “Top Boy”, co-starring Kano, Dave and Ashley Walters.
Across 10 mixtapes/EPs and three critically acclaimed albums, Little Simz’ music documents her story, her journey, her becoming – and in turn, her generation. Hip Hop blends with soul, R&B and jazz influences as the dynamic soundscape for a path of introverted reflection and focused self-determination that distill into concise, relatable bars on taking leaps of faith, learning from losses and building on gains, navigating success, disappointment, confusion, anxiety, shifting relationships, industry politics, all the while nurturing, and sometimes clinging to, a solid sense of self. Having come through her lowest point, and had the bravery to embrace her imperfections and her humanity, Simz has emerged on a high: Most recent album “GREY Area” is a no-holds-barred, unflinchingly honest modern classic of UK rap.
As well as being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2019 GREY Area has won Best Album at the Ivor Novello and NME Awards this year, whilst Simz herself picked up Best Vocal Performance at the Q Awards. More recently, she released her Drop 6 EP during lockdown to widespread critical acclaim and radio and media support. She has also just launched 101FM, her very own radio show on Worldwide FM. The show offers a rare and galvanising glimpse into Simz’ dizzyingly varied musical obsessions of the moment, as well as radio drops from some very special surprise guests. She is now back in the studio working on her next hugely anticipated LP.