21 May Little Simz: The Mistress of the Mixtape
She may be known by various monikers, but all of that may soon be about to change if the stars align like industry insiders expect them to. On the strength of Soundcloud, word of mouth, stellar reviews, and an assist from none other than Jay-Z, Lil Simz, an English multi-talent, is perfectly positioned to set the music industry ablaze with her singular delivery on wax.
The Beginnings of the Juggernaut
Barely out of her teens, Simbi Ajikawo (her given name) has been forging a path that is distinctly all her own since she could speak. Raised in London, she attended the renown St. Mary’s Youth Club, the same school that gave the world pop stars Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke. While there, her artistry was evident early on, and after a string of auditions for television, she was cast in the BBC show Spirit Warriors as Vicky. Up next was another television series for the channel E4 on Youngers as Meleka. With a bit of acting under her belt, Ajikawo was not satisfied and decided to concentrate on her music, and this is when her career began to reach elevated heights.
If asked to describe her music, Simz uses words like ‘experimental’ and ‘eclectic’. It is apparent from the sound that it is nearly impossible to place her in any one category and this is the charm and allure of her talent. Through Soundcloud, Little Simz has managed to amass a following by staying true to her artistic integrity and the gamble has more than paid off. Being known as an internet rapper may sound like a step down from the mainstream, but music purists have come around to accept the medium to be just as viable as Billboard for baby boomers. Without the restraints of conglomerates to hold her back, the buzz of Little Simz has trickled far from her roots in London to the other side of the pond. In quick succession, she has released mixtapes that have not only introduced her to the world, but revolutionized the way in which up and coming talent get their work out to a larger audience.
Between 2010 and 2014, Little Simz has satiated fans’ thirst by releasing four mixtapes in quick succession of one another. What’s most remarkable about this is not the input, but the impact of the input. 2010’s Stratosphere was only the beginning for Simz fans as she soon added 2011’s Stratosphere 2, 2013’s XY.ZED and 2014’s Blank Canvas. It was her 2014 EP that got the attention of some serious heavyweights in the industry. Featured on Jay-Z’s Life + Times website, this particular Simz offering forced the entire music community to take note of a British phenomenon that was flying just below the radar. But the question remained: was she a performer?
The Power of Performance
Her production style is more akin to analog than the digital world we live in, but the true test for any burgeoning musician is whether or not they can handle the stage. This was the question looming over the head of Lil Simz and pundits wondered aloud if she had what it took to execute what they heard on all of her mixtapes. Performing alongside the likes of noted singers Estelle, Tinie Tempah, and Ms. Dynamite had placated some, but it was not until 2014’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas that all questions were laid to rest. With her delivery and stage presence, there was no doubts left: a star had truly arrived.
The next natural step for Lil Simz was to produce and release an EP that would solidify her status as a future commodity in the music game. Clearly, she was on the edge of greatness.
E.D.G.E (Every Day Gets Easier)
After four mixtapes boldly announced her presence, it was 2014 that is arguably her biggest so far. E.D.G.E (Every Day Gets Easier) is poised to mute all the naysayers who said an internet rapper could never reach the success of any mainstream performer following the standard industry blueprint. With thirteen tracks of sheer sonic brilliance, Little Simz’s accolades continue to rise, with many calling her one of the first of her kind: a self-made female MC. The EP is a natural progression for the artist, and unlike many offerings from new performers, does not call for a lot of guest appearances by other, more established artists. Instead, Little Simz has chosen to work with those that have been with her since she began, including Josh Arcé, Chuck 20, and Tilla. This decision has been met with praise, as has the album, which is already getting critical acclaim. Along the way, she has managed to make even more history, becoming the first artist in the history of BBC radio to have a session there before an official single. Standout tracks on the EP include Quest Luv, Mandarin Oranges Part 2, and the title track.
For those that have not entered the world of Little Simz, prepare to be taken on a musical journey like no other. This is a little woman primed to do very big things in the entertainment world, one beat at a time.
Check out standout tracks from E.D.G.E. and other notable songs from Little Simz below!
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