Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Little Simz

  • A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons [Age 101, 2015] *
  • Stillness in Wonderland [Age 101, 2016] *
  • Grey Area [Age 101, 2019] A-
  • No Thank You [Forever Living Originals/AWAL, 2022] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons [Age 101, 2015]
Stake your claim at 21, hit paydirt four years later. ("Dead Body," "Full or Empty") *

Stillness in Wonderland [Age 101, 2016]
Representing for her smart, up-and-coming, insecure self with a loose "concept" meant to spark conscious rap in the U.K., an elusive goal. anywhere ("Shotgun," "Picture Perfect") *

Grey Area [Age 101, 2019]
After two valiant, well-crafted, less than compelling albums, what struck me instantly about this London-born-and-based Nigerian rapper's third try was its musicality: soft-edged without slurring a word, her flow is ductile and refreshing, brooklike whether or not she's ever tromped in the woods. Yet it's also confident and even defiant without benefit of dancehall boom-bap. Peeved that she's got a career but not much more, the hard-touring 25-year old insists that she's a rapper, not merely a female rapper. And that's fine. But whether reporting that she's "a sensitive soul" or protesting that her jailed friend Ken has "a heart full of gold/Good intent with a smile so big," her virtues are female virtues even if they should be everyone's. How many males would begin a song claiming "L-O-V-E" is "something that I don't believe in" and end it "Was bound to end eventually/Still it hurts tremendously/Can't bear the intensity"? Not many--other males might mock them! Simz is clearly tough--has to be. But she's also clearly kind, and that's even tougher. A-

No Thank You [Forever Living Originals/AWAL, 2022]
This girlish Anglo-Nigerian rapper will turn 29 this month, no longer really little in the immature sense. Blessed with a soprano that remains not just cute and articulated but occasionally incisive, she's free to put serious effort into getting past the usual music-biz shortfalls--"Turn wine into water and get blood out of a stone" is how she brags it. And though she was a fighter not a lover last time, she's gotten over that hump: "Don't need much as long as I got my baby he's a rider." So what is it all for, really? "Scrutinized for freeing the truth about the system/All she wanted to do was uplift the women." A-