Little Simz - 'GREY Area' Album Review
The most important thing you can have as a rapper in this decade is confidence. You can have lyrics, rhymes and flows but none if it matters if you’re not confident in your own abilities. Unfortunately, the Lil Pumps and Lil Dickys of the world have discovered this little trick and risen to fame despite their complete lack of creativity and skill. However, sometimes you get the mystical combo of an artist with insane talent alongside the confidence and charisma to back it up who has the power to completely take over a scene. Little Simz has taken about 4 years to fully sway me, but on her new album GREY Area I’m convinced that she is that artist, as she proves that not only is she the single best UK rapper right now but she knows it too.
As Simz trickled out singles over this past year it was obvious she was trying something new, with the weird and wonderful ‘Offence’ that took over my kitchen speaker for a good month or 2. Or the distorted and energetic ‘Boss’ that twisted the sound of conventional rap into a punkier, messier sound that didn’t really match anything she had done before. Now, Little Simz’ previous album Stillness In Wonderland introduced me to her, so naturally I have a big spot for it in my heart, but in comparison to these 2 singles it seems so… standard. I still urge people to listen to it of course but GREY Area is quite simply a step up in almost every avenue, from production to flows to rhymes to subject matter, Simz proves that there’s beauty in simplicity. At only 10 tracks GREY Area is no where near as conceptual or lengthy as her previous project but it packs even more punch as every track feels purposeful and meaningful, from the smooth as silk ‘Selfish’ to the jazzy closer ‘Flowers’ there isn’t a dud in sight. While i’m diving into the tracklist I may as well get it out of the way and talk about ‘Venom’ because this track really has no right being as good as it is.
Opening with some horror-esque strings, Little Simz puts forward one of the strongest intros to a track since JME released ’96 F**kries’. Closing with the line "Pussy, you sour/ Never giving credit where it’s due cos you don’t like pussy in power", Simz’ opening verse just oozes frustration and anger while keeping up with her mind-boggling flow and rhyme scheme, something that continues across this sensational track. As the previous line might suggest, almost every track on here is introspective in some way, making for a very personal album, one that focuses not only on Simz place inside her own head, but her place within the rap scene, with a focus on gender politics, as Simz fits in some fantastic shots at her critics, once again indicative of her unrelenting self-confidence that carries this album. One of the greatest moments of introspection comes from the tragic and beautiful ‘Pressure’ that once again shows just how breathtakingly talented she is as she mixes passionate delivery with a mesmerising rhyme scheme based around letters of the alphabet in the fantastic second verse.
It’s difficult to pick flaws in an album as airtight as this but something that slightly disappointed me comes from some of the features. While every feature on here does their job well (especially Little Dragon), it would’ve been nice to hear another rapper along side Simz as even when she kills almost every track, there are some instrumentals that I would love to hear another rapper spit over, like on the fantastic ‘King Of Hearts’ from Stillness In Wonderland that still holds some of my favourite verses from Chip and Ghetts. However, this lack of features shows that this is an album all about Simz as she dominates every track on here, combining jazzier instrumentals with even tighter flows than I thought were possible, without the need for any rap features. It would be easy to say that GREY Area sees Simz ‘finding her sound’ but in truth she’s been killing since her debut, I truly hope this is the project to push Little Simz into the mainstream, because if a male artist had a track record of this calibre they would have been shot into stardom by now.
Listen to the album below: