Article originally appeared on The Music 28-Feb-2019

UK rapper Little Simz has spent her career building a reputation for fleet-footed lyricism layered over thrumming beats and conceptual leanings that flirt heavily with the surreal. But after diving into the otherworldly oddities of Stillness In Wonderland, and grappling with the weight of self-made success, Simz has decided to explore the grittier side of her own life’s Grey Area.

Weaving soul rhythms with lo-fi leanings so that a jazz flute can somehow thrive alongside bass that could burn a discotheque, Little Simz’ latest is immediately enthralling. Produced entirely by Inflo, Grey Area has the authenticity of a garage auteur and the feel of a seasoned studio master. Going into the recording with little pre-made material, Simz embraces a sense of therapeutic freeness that brings the tracks to some dark and brutally honest places, yet her swift lyrical delivery means nothing gets bogged in reflective territory. The whole album is relentlessly deft and punches harder than a prizefighter fending off personal demons.

Grey Area is intense, inventive, and earnest, a rare rap album where bluster gives way to bluntness and bravado isn’t bragging but actually brave. Little Simz deserves her self-proclaimed place among the greats.

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