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Little Simz Displays Her Breadth and Brilliance on ‘No Thank You’

Little Simz is like a hood BBC anchor. Her songs come off like quiet but spicy broadcasts, as if she checked in for a soothing afternoon chat if that somehow involves a soul-scorching read. Pleasant but snarky, Simz combines Queens Gambit cordiality with Top Boy aggression to marry well-bred flows to blistering bars. Appropriately, the London-born MC (and skilled actress) flaunts a thespian’s remarkable range: she gives us humor, charisma, and a lot of feels.

Emotion is Simz’s secret weapon. She has a knack for sharing heartfelt tales with marked conviction that settles deep in your sternum. She’s a bona fide technician, no doubt. But the sheer technicality of her rhymes is not at odds with her natural ability to craft poignant songs that make you laugh, cry, and silently rage. On No Thank You, the follow-up to her excellent 2021 breakthrough Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, Simz gives us 10 choice cuts (showcasing her brilliance and breadth) that convey the whole emoji board of riveting emotions.

Those battle-ready bars distinguish “Gorilla,” where Simz, over loping bass and crisp percussion, spits, “I’m cut with a different scissor/From the same cloth as my dear ancestors.” And it’s captivating to hear her effortlessly unpack a couplet that floors you as she skillfully pivots to the next bruising punchline.

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But “Broken” is a boon of self-reflection, and it’s arguably Simz’s most powerful song to date. Buoyed by the strains of a choir, Simz describes how racism afflicts her, wasting her time, energy, and agency. “It shouldn’t be a norm to live your life as a tragedy/To live your life in a state of confusion and agony,” she sighs. And you’re reminded that being Black means being in a constant state of rage.

On “No Merci,” Simz kicks caustic bars (“I’m a human landmine/I am not a human being you can gaslight”), indicting lames that want her “stuck up in the matrix.” Meanwhile, “Heart on Fire,” with its blithe hook asserting that “my life is a blessing,” is her stirring manifesto. But the soulful “Sideways” is the obvious standout. Here, Simz embodies snappish warrior energy, confirming her calm sovereignty: “Walkin’ in my light, my shadow is protectin’ me/Never movin’ sideways, I done this shit my way.” We’re forever thankful for Simz’s bold originality.

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