The tension began to build in the small but intimate venue of Dalston’s The Shacklewell Arms for the highly anticipated arrival of young North London hailing rising superstar Little Simz. The excitement was undeniable as the room began to fill and you could spot true fans a mile a way, already getting themselves set up as close to the stage as possible. With the atmosphere set and venue filled to the brim, the girl with four mixtapes, and a debut EP under her belt, came bursting onto the stage. Little Simz immediately looked at home and not only with her overwhelmingly cool confident attitude, but in her over all appearance, she was rocking some blue and white dungarees, a red hat and her distinctive front plait that she has so naturally made her own.
Little Simz may only be 20 years old, but you should not let that fall you, as she really does hold a lyrical punch and attitude that could be confused with a grown woman who has been performing for decades. She has a sound that she describes as “Rap, Experimental, with elements of Rock” and she is often nicknamed ‘Princess of Rap’, and after witnessing her live, I could not agree more. I saw the true potential of a girl that could well grow to be the ‘Queen of Rap’, as she owned the stage and completely showed off her lyrical skill and her own unique style which her fans so truly love. Simz performed songs off her debut EP E.D.G.E which was released the same day as her show and is an acronym for for her motto Every Day Gets Easier, and you could really hear the progression and maturation within her style and sound, and the transition she has made as an artist since her mixtape releases.
A true testament to this transition was when Simz performed the song “Quest Luv” with guest Tilla. This song was such a change from the usual chaotic and more hard verbal delivery that we are used to hearing, as the tone of the music changed with the sound of the piano over a slowed down drum pattern and the sensational soulful vocals of 15-year old Tilla, that added a real emotional edge, that hits a lot deeper than her past work has previously touched upon. The song speaks upon an unsuccessful relationship and echoes a darker, more poetic edge than we have been accustomed to, and this really demonstrates the dynamic growth of Simz and the direction in which she is heading as an artist.
However this is not to disregard any of Little Simz’ previous work, because without her previous mixtapes, this young talent would not be where she is today, and these were the tracks that have gained her such committed and long term fans who filled the venue where I was standing. Not only that but without Blank Canvas her mixtape which was released last year, Simz would not have been thrust into the star light, with her mixtape being premièred on Jay Z’s Life + Times in September 2013. And it was songs from this mixtape and even earlier work including tracks off her XY.ZED mix tape, that when performed, really sent the crowd into a frenzy, and showed real commitment and love for this young star. Simz dropped verses of lyrical genius and musical passion and appeared to be glowing on that stage, whether that was because she looked like she belonged on that stage or because she was just so exhausted from every ounce of energy she put into each track and every hard hitting beautifully carved drop.
There is something to be said for the amount of energy and passion Simz put into every single song, verse, and lyric she performed, and this did not fade throughout her whole set, which just accentuates Simz’s true potential and the amount of hunger she has for what she does and what she wants to achieve. She spoke in her show about never giving up and how everything is possible, and this is something that she herself has proved alone, and should be an example for young people everywhere. Little Simz gave an emotional, passionate, honest and admirable performance and for me, sold her debut EP with that performance alone, and I look forward to seeing what this rising star takes on next, but I have no doubts that she is on the EDGE of something special.