Magazine article The Fader

Little Simz: A Young MC Masters the Art of Not Making Compromises

Magazine article The Fader

Little Simz: A Young MC Masters the Art of Not Making Compromises

Article excerpt

Little Simz is tall. That's not the only disarming thing about the 21-year-old from London: there's also her measured, quiet speaking voice and the way the MC, who's badder than your whole clique, folds her long legs up in front of her like a nonchalant sohoolkid. Her astronomic levels of chill belie the fact that her bristling, low-voiced flow and experimental taste in beats have won her co-signs from Jay Z, Kendriok Lamar, and A$AP Rocky. But as labels rush to sign her, she's opting to self-release her upcoming debut album. "I know what I'm doing," she says, explaining her general ambivalence about other people's opinions. "I was mad when people were calling me a grime artist. I've been influenced by grime, but I've been influenced by rock, and I'm not a rock artist. And people always like to label me as a 'female rapper.' I hate that fucking label."

Born Simbi Ajikawo in north London, Simz started rapping at the age of nine, when she performed at a school concert in a red tracksuit. "It was just the feeling of being onstage and having a moment to be heard," she remembers. At the time, music was one of several pursuits, alongside street dance and acting (between 14 and 16, she was cast in the British TV shows Spirit Warriors and Youngers). When her single mom started hosting foster children at their home, Simz--previously the baby of the family--says she was inspired to set an example by creating something lasting.

She started at 15, putting out self-recorded mixtapes of frank storytelling over stolen beats. …

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