Little Simz Says Farewell to Doubt

The 25-year-old London rapper brought the honest talk she — and many of us — needed to have with herself to an exhilarating Grey Area.

Little Simz is in between Coachella weekends, hardly a calm period before the next desert storm. Though it’s her first festival opportunity to change up her set, she’s more than satisfied with what they served up last Saturday — though not with the mistake of foregoing a bandana.

“Our show is our show,” says Simz, the 25-year-old Londoner born Simbi Ajikawo. “We’ve done a really good job at crafting it to make sure we get all the songs in.”

The renewed faith in herself came while making her third studio album Grey Area, which was released in March.  San Franciscans experiencing Coachella FOMO can catch her at Slim’s on June 12. 

Though she doubted whether she was on the right track, she knows now she always was. And it shows in her latest work, from feminist fearlessness unleashed over horror movie chills on “Venom” to lingering uncertainty and introspection with Cleo Sol for “Selfish.”

“There was a point where I just had to be real honest with myself,” Simz says. “There was no subtle message, no hiding behind words. This is how it is.” 

Simz finds music a blessing to work through life’s realities and it’s not without its fun. “Boss,” she says, felt like playing a live rap show while “101 FM” taps into the radio nostalgia of growing up in London, trying to make it as a rapper.

Inflo, a childhood friend, helped guide her through the album as a producer. But Simz also learned from Damon Albarn, of Gorillaz, as a featured artist on “Garage Palace” and on tour with them in 2017 — including an appearance at Outside Lands that year. Albarn’s guiding ethos of making music that feels right versus what they think the audience will like especially resonated.

Simz considers Grey Area a coming of age album, one that she hopes others will grow up, as she did with Lauryn Hill, Lil Wayne and Missy Elliot. But it’s far from the album that taught her everything.

“I don’t claim to know everything, I’m not some Jedi that knows everything,” Simz says. “I’m still 25 and figuring things out. [I’m] inventing the person I want to be instead of just finding myself.”

Little Simz, Saturday, April 20, 11 p.m., on the Gobi Stage and Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m., at Slim’s, 333 11th Street, $20,

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