UK rapper Little Simz breaks out with the sonically diverse, expertly crafted Grey Area | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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UK rapper Little Simz breaks out with the sonically diverse, expertly crafted Grey Area

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UK rapper Little Simz (born Simbiatu Ajikawo) is just 25 years old, but throughout the 2010s she’s amassed a prolific discography of LPs, EPs, and mixtapes. She’s generated a healthy buzz along the way, and now seems primed for mainstream success—her third full-length, March’s Grey Area (Age 101), contains her catchiest and strongest songwriting to date. Produced by her childhood friend Inflo, Grey Area is a diverse album where no two songs sound alike. Live instrumentation stretches the palette, infusing hip-hop beats with rock ’n’ roll energy and neosoul sensibilities and deftly setting up Simz's nimble, tongue-twisting raps and fiery delivery. Guest performances by electronic band Little Dragon, soul singer Cleo Sol, reggae singer Chronixx, and indie singer-guitarist Michael Kiwanuka further diversify the vibe. Opening banger “Offence” is a perfect introduction to the album’s eclecticism—driven by a thick synth line, squealing flute riffs, and soaring string accents, it sounds like a modernized take on a 1970s soundtrack for a car-chase scene. And for every track where Simz goes hard, such as “Boss” (“I’m a boss in a fuckin’ dress!”) and “Venom” (“Never givin’ credit where it’s due ’cause you don’t like pussy in power”), she includes a soulful song about heartbreak (“Sherbet Sunset”) or a jazzy elegy (“Flowers”). Catch her now before she blows up.   v

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