I first heard London-based rapper Simbi (better known as Little Simz) on a YouTube rabbit hole looking for new artists about six years ago. I stumbled on her music video for a song called ‘Marilyn Monroe’ (ft Chuck20 & Remus) and hearing her originality, uniqueness, and unapologetic sense of self–it was love at first sight. It’s hard to find female rappers that embody their songs, with real meaning behind every word. I’ve followed her every release since that day, never missing a chance to see her live.
I saw her for the first time in the sweaty depths of hole-in-the-wall club, GOODGOD (Eek, if you remember that joint). The sold-out Liverpool Street gig fell on her birthday, where she was everything I imagined she would be in person–and so much more. Little Simz dedicates her energy and heart on stage like something out of this world, when Simbi starts rapping; her focus is impenetrable, unstoppable. It’s like you’re right there in the studio with her, listening to her pour mind and soul into every bar.
To date, my favourite of her releases remains 2016’s Stillness in Wonderland. Especially the album’s final song, ‘No More Wonderland’, which really hits home at the moment. There’s something about the live instrumentals, the soft piano and raunchy trumpet stringing every verse together, creating this jazzy symphony behind Simbi’s raw and effortless rapping. She just gets me every time.
The track has been in my weekly rotation lately, and despite being released long before Covid times–damn, it feels relatable. I’ve enjoyed this lockdown/ ‘wonderland’ a little too much. In some ways, forced seclusion awakened my desperate need for alone time, for perks like staying home, not working much and eating a lot/whenever I want. An unrealistic lifestyle I’m fully aware could never last. A wonderland, that like Simbi, I know I need to get out of.
“I don’t want to be in this wonderland no more,
I can’t afford to be here anymore,
It’s not real, it’s a figment of my imagination,
It’s all pretty here and everything’s lovely,
Some fuck shit, too but real shit is happening and my people need me
And therefore… I’m out”