Many big names and listeners see Little Simz as a heavy hitting prospect in 2015. With names like Kendrick Lamar and Mick Jenkins greenlighting the young MC from the UK, everyone has good reason to believe so. The seven track project is a milestone and her tenth solo project to date; with AGE 101: DROP X equally evoking the importance and significance of this solo project and her artistry as a whole.
This album isn’t for the simple-hearted. Graceful, light piano keys introduce a dance with the motifs of African, somber, impoverished strife off the bat; consciousness and soul oozing off the first track “Just a Dose.” The song wastes no time in establishing a foundation and sets a tone of what to expect from the rest of the album. The dark-hearted introduction transitions into a cold, weary, cloud-rapped “Tattoos” featuring Tilla and Josh Arcé warning listeners not to “wear your heart up on your sleeve.” Midway through the album, Little Simz flexes her malleability in “Sea Level” with ALXA and Mick Jenkins. By adopting Mick’s mannerisms and aesthetic, it’s not hard to imagine this being in a Mick album like Wave[s] or Water[s].
Twisted and bent with calloused hands, you can hear and feel Simz’ knuckles turn white from the pressure society provokes. With lyrics like: “Still I’m hella angry at the system/
Young black woman who the fuck is gonna listen?” to “why do they kill my people on a daily basis/Same way I’m killing rappers I can demonstrate it,” the interlude splits the six tracks apart from each other, illustrating an orchestrated and methodical decision. From “Just a Dose” to “Kiki’s Future, ” a mellow Little Simz turns into an angry one, shocking every synapse to her disposal to produce jackhammer delivery.
The only drawback to the way Simz delivers is that while refreshing, some of the bars and themes that she brings comes off as familiar. To point these out you have to nitpick, and finding them familiar isn’t bad at all. If anything, it’s not that she’s imitating, it’s that she’s inspired.
“Stained Subconsciousness” ties everything up within the project into a whole. The two minds of Simz that appear as individuals in AGE 101: DROP X finally come together to make a song with Chuck20. However, this is when things get muddy. In the midst of Simz’ verse you realize that yes, the lyrics have to do with her life, but unlike the songs previous there’s no cohesiveness. Everything’s disjointed and scattered, her mind and thoughts bouncing on insecurities she has faster than her voice itself. Based on the patterns prior to this track, this was her exact intent.
Little Simz aims to make more than listeners with AGE 101: DROP X and she fully achieves that. As hard as she tries to make it an easy listen with agreeable instrumentals and proper delivery, the lyrical content is heavy. Commercially in the past, being conscious within your lyrics doesn’t hit the market as well as a party track. Who the hell cares. Simz is dropping good music, and no amount of views and no amount of money will ever add up to the amount of soul put into work.