Little Simz – Stillness In Wonderland \\ Best Albums of 2016
We’re revealing the ten best albums of 2016
For reasons that are lengthy and numerous, North London’s Little Simz has the UK listening – but the US is listening a little closer still. Her second album Stillness In Wonderland – a statement of arrival that follows her coming of age debut – is another self-written independent release via her own label AGE 101. What’s more, since releasing A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons in September 2015, Little Simz has toured North America with Lauryn Hill and has gained fans in Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar. Simz is making an impact enviable of any rapper, but somehow, many British music platforms seem to be unaware of the striking career she’s creating for herself.
Stillness In Wonderland is never predictable. Simz’ intonation has matured. Inflections conclude phrases with a streamlined assurance. Throughout the album, an electric guitar is played with dreamy reverb, nimble fingers dance on piano keys and impactful trumpet melodies from Sheila Maurice-Grey (Nerija) pack an emotive punch, particularly on One In Rotation + Wide Awake. In the album’s instrumentation, the stitching between hiphop and jazz continues to strengthen.
Stillness In Wonderland takes us out of ourselves, and allows us to look back through the looking glass. It bares a perspective of the millennial’s shared psyche; anxiety, feeling overwhelmed; a pressure to deliver.
On Doorways + Trust Issues, sorrowful trumpet melodies mingle with a percussive rat-a-tattling that could sit comfortably on Kendrick Lamar’s next release; “My imperfections make me who I plan to be, though slowing me down is trust issues”.
Little Simz ponders on LMPD with touching sincerity “have I let my people down?… I’m not half the woman Mia was, still I hear the voice of Nina here guiding us, we’re running out of legends… I can’t let them down”. A self-awareness of her own potential – expressed without overbearing-aggression or hyper-masculinity – is what separates Simz from many other grime artists, especially those yet to make a lasting impression on America.
Little Simz vocalises a humble yet determined confidence that we recognise in some of America’s favourite rappers; Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West – before his festival of self-love erupted.
Whilst the rapper is rightfully popular, Little Simz is confusingly under-celebrated by many of the UK’s music platforms (take note, BBC Sound of…). It’s frustrating for fans – and surely Little Simz herself. Despite her great musicianship and distinctive sound, her music is lacking the entirety of its deserved credit, but that only seems to be the case on her home turf. The US are setting the example on how to champion Simz. Off the back of Stillness In Wonderland, may the UK recognise the start of a long and impressive career for Little Simz.
Head to our homepage to read more of our best albums of 2016.
JS | Tina Edwards