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Little Simz: 2019

Little Simz and Osiris Wilson in Studio A (photo by Thomas Koenig/WFUV)

Little Simz and Osiris Wilson in Studio A (photo by Thomas Koenig/WFUV)

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[Ed. Note: Our "Ascending Women" series, looking back at early FUV Live sessions, continues with Simbi Ajikawo, aka Little Simz. Since her appearance in Studio A in July 2019, she released one of the first pandemic-era EPs in May 2020, Drop 6, recorded in her London flat while on lockdown. In September 2021, her fourth album, the autobiographical Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (an acronym of Simbi), was released and became one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year, with singles like "Point and Kill," featuring Obongjayar, "I Love You, I Hate You," and "Woman" with Cleo Sol. In fact, "Woman" landed on President Barack Obama's list of favorite songs of 2021. Ajikawo won a 2022 Brit Award for Best New Artist — even though she's been releasing music since 2010. Little Simz is the first British woman to ever headline — and sell out — three shows at London's O2 Academy Brixton, and she'll be touring North America in the spring of 2022,  playing New York's Webster Hall on May 25.]

As prolific as London’s Simbiatu "Simbi" Ajikawo has been over her career as Little Simz thus far — three albums, seven EPs, and four mixtapes — it is her third album, GREY Area, that has made her one of Britain’s most buzzed-about musicians and rappers. An emotionally riveting triumph, GREY Area is one of the most accomplished and important albums of 2019. (Little Simz received her first Mercury Prize nomination for GREY Area on July 25.)

The ten-track album is Ajikawo's personal and powerful declaration of what she faces as a young black woman in Britain. It not only takes on politics, racism, sexism and social inequity, but also grief and its aftermath. Little Simz sifts through her past, her present, and her dreams for the future. Her flow is concise, eloquent, and sharp: “I’m Jay-Z on a bad day, Shakespeare on my worst days," she wryly observes on the explosive "Offence."

Little Simz and her friend and touring DJ, Osiris Wilson, dropped by Studio A for a stripped-down set of two songs from GREY Area, "Selfish" and "101FM." We also spoke about her work with the producer Inflo, who has known her since childhood, and her successful side gig as an actress, most recently appearing in the Netflix series “Top Boy.”

[Recorded: 6/24/19; Engineer: Jim O'Hara; Producer: Sarah Wardrop]

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