Review: Little Simz Triumphs At Camden's Roundhouse
Here's why Little Simz is one the UK's most exciting young artists.
Let's run through a few facts. Water is wet, the Sun is hot and Simbi Ajikawo, better known as Little Simz, is one the UK's most exciting young artists.
Praised by Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar (“Little Simz might be the illest doing it right now”), Simz – an independent, unsigned artist - makes soulful, honest hip-hop. Her personal lyrics are sharp, fierce and delivered with a confidence that defies her age. (Little Simz is only 22!) Plus, as tracks like ‘Dead Body’ prove, Simz really knows how to get the people going. (To quote Blades of Glory’s Chazz Michael Michaels.)
Little Simz started performing when she was nine, back in 2003. After acting on the TV shows Spirit Warriors and Youngers, Simz has gone on to release a tonne of material – including two critically-acclaimed albums, 2015’s A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons and 2016’s Stillness in Wonderland.
On Sunday (12 February), Simbi Ajikawo found herself headlining Welcome To Wonderland: The Experience – a night she curated especially for the Roundhouse Rising programme. Clearly all that hard work has paid off. (Reminder: Little Simz is f*cking 22.)
Welcome To Wonderland: The Experience featured both music and live art. Mckay Felt displayed the gorgeous artwork he made for Little Simz, as well as creating new pieces live, and there were performances from musicians like the jazz/hip-hop collective Nérija and Chicago’s Mick Jenkins, who kept repeating his mantra “Drink. More. Water,” over and over, and showcased tracks from his debut, 2016’s The Healing Component.
Backed up by a 7-piece band, including brass, two keys and more, Little Simz delivered a throbbing set that drew heavily from her latest album. This included one of MTV’s favourites, ‘Shotgun’, which sees Simz juxtaposing confrontational lyrics against whisp-y backing vocals and a breezy guitar line. It’s fun. (Note: on the album, the track featured The Internet’s vocalist, Syd, who recently released her excellent solo debut. Check that out.)
One of A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons' best tracks, ‘God Bless Mary’, made for a sweet moment where Little Simz dedicated the performance to her infinitely patient neighbour, who never once complained about the music roaring through the walls. God bless Mary indeed.
Simz later brought out a string of guests, including her collective Space Age – comprising of Tilla, Chuck20, Josh Arcé and more – as well as Ghetts and Chip for ‘King Of Hearts’.
But the night’s highlight came in the shape of Stormzy and Kano, who raised the Roundhouse’s roof when they joined Simz for a blistering, thundering performance of ‘Dead Body’, Stormzy’s ‘Big For Your Boots’ and Kano’s ‘3 Wheel-ups’. We’re surprised the venue’s pillars didn’t splinter apart and collapse. It was electric.
Don’t believe us? Watch this.
— Rohan Kon (@rohankon) February 13, 2017
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