When I wrote some brief thoughts on Little Simz’s last album, two things I found striking about it was how nimble the rhymes were and how concise it was overall. This makes the UK rapper’s latest outing all the more impressive, since instead of playing to those same strengths, she’s gone in the complete other direction. Though the rhymes are still very strong this time around, they’re a lot more introspective (as the album’s title would indicate) while also meditating on all of the world’s ills, which just feel like they’re compounding year after year. Conversely, the album’s production is far more epic in scope, as is the running time, which runs about twice the length as Grey Area.
Though I’ll admit that the album’s hour-plus length has kept me from spending quite as much time as I’ve wanted to with Sometimes, it’s still an album I’ve tried to make the time for since the electrifying ambition is undeniable. There are strings and horns and choirs mixed together into this kind of cool majestic sweep, which obviously isn’t what you’d automatically expect to hear on a hip-hop album. That said, I have noticed that there have been some other UK hip-hop albums from this year that had a similarly symphonic production style that I briefly checked out but whose names now escape me. Clearly, Introvert was the only one of these albums that clicked with me, possibly because Little Simz just has the kind of cross-over charisma that… apparently landed her a cameo in Venom: Let There Be Carnage?
But yes, there’s a wide range of sounds on this album that’s often orchestral, but also borders on the more chill, R&B-tinged side of things. It really just runs the gamut of emotions, especially when Simz’s rhymes can often be optimistic and confident while also butting up against her more self-doubting instincts. It’s an album that I understand if the casual music fan doesn’t have time for at this late stage of 2021 (though it appears a lot of critics heard and liked this album), since it does feel like this was a year suited for more scaled-back pieces of pop culture. And yet, that’s also what makes this album so refreshing — that it’s willing to go so big when so little music dares to these days.