New British hip-hop with ATLien appeal…
Little Simz, Clash issue 99 Next Wave by Ash Kingston

Little Simz is the kind of artist that is prone to being labelled – but she pays no attention. After years of being told she’s “good for a girl”, she has become numb to it. Despite hip-hop’s historical obsession with masculinity, it’s ridiculous to think that gender should be any kind of handicap, nor should being born in a particular place. Simz is simply an artist with a lot of ambition, practicing her craft at an already high level.

She outlines her goals early on in our conversation, talking about her newly launched label, Age 101, but also with regard to her own output.

“I’m trying to be consistent with dropping new music and making sure that these songs are able to live on, and not just for the summer or for the last quarter of the year, but that you can listen five years from now and they still have the same effect.”

Despite having been in the scene since she was 14 – “Between the ages of nine and 14 I did a couple of shows and people thought I was cute, but after that it was like, ‘This girl can actually spit’,” she says – it has been during the past couple of years that the now-20-year-old has really come into her own.

Preceded by last year’s ‘Blank Canvas’ mixtape, June 2014 saw the release of ‘E.D.G.E’, her first all-original project: an incredibly absorbing and cohesive listen that easily stands amongst the year’s best releases. Meanwhile, she spent May touring the UK with ScHoolboy Q and Isaiah Rashad.

Through an incredible work ethic – she often finds herself sending people ideas at 4am in the morning – her fan-base has expanded on both sides of the Atlantic and includes some of the world’s greatest. Recently, a last-minute decision to do a surprise performance at Virgina rapper Goldlink’s London show put her in front of André 3000, who happened to be in attendance. After the show, fate brought the two face-to-face and the OutKast legend told her that he was a fan.

“For me, hearing that from André 3000, it’s not something that happens everyday, it was just like a dream,” she recalls humbly, adding: “It’s just crazy isn’t it? You just don’t expect things like that would happen, especially to you.”

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WHERE: North London

WHAT: Spacious, boundaries-pushing rap

GET 3 SONGS: ‘Stay’, ‘Have I’, ‘Time Travels’

FACT: She can pat her head and rub her stomach really well. (At the same time, presumably? Ed)

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Words: Grant Brydon
Photo: Ash Kingston
Fashion: Shirley Amartey

Little Simz online

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