Venturing into the world of Sometimes I Might Be Introvert parallels the experience of walking into a stadium filled with thousands of expectant eyes. Unfolding with the crisp cracks of a snare drum and swelling brass instrumentals, the production of the first track, “Introvert,” sets a scene of cinematic proportions. “The kingdom’s on fire, the blood of a young messiah,” Little Simz raps incisively. There is no hand-holding for listeners; they are launched into Simz’s fiery vision of the world in seconds.
Composed of 19 tracks spanning an hour in total, SIMBI is in all parts raw and glorious. “Simz the artist or Simbi the person?” Simz questions in “Introvert.” The question rings through the track’s grand soundscape as she struggles to reconcile her emotional turmoil with her conspicuousness as a rapper. As an artist regularly fessing her emotions to the world, what does it mean for Simz to be an introvert?
For some, introversion conjures up images of seclusion and insularity. However, Simz’s introversion makes her aware of the flaws and feelings of the world around her. “I study humans, that makes me an anthropologist,” she proclaims. Indeed, SIMBI covers ever-relevant issues from gentrification to loneliness in the same track, every word carrying an urgent weight.
While Simz’s worldly observations resound, her introspection forms the lifeblood of her work. Both a product of her tumultuous relationship with her father and a rumination on fame, “I Love You, I Hate You” stings like a raw wound. “How do you humanize your hero?” Simz wonders. While the question most obviously applies to her view of her father, Simz’s fame has also molded her into a hero idolized by the public. In a way, the track’s bare honesty is Simz’s way of humanizing herself.
The mellow, lilting “I See You” continues this vein of sincerity. “Know I like my time alone, but still don’t wanna be lonely,” Simz confesses to a lover in an outpouring of her relationship anxieties. Ultimately, her open expression of emotion is what drives both her relationship with her lover and her own growth, a testament to Simz finding strength in vulnerability.
More than anything, SIMBI is an album concerned with the separation and inexorable connections between different worlds. While Simz’s introversion and life as a celebrity clash, the two are permanently intertwined. She also mulls over her transition from the ordinary into stardom: “Never had a penny, now I’m on artist-slash-actor money,” she reveals over the breezy beat of “Two Worlds Apart.” Her nonchalant tone reveals her growing familiarity with a world far from her previous lifestyle and toxic relationship.
“How Did You Get Here” sees Simz broaden her focus as she recounts her journey to fame. While the track addresses Simz’s gritty rise from shooting no-budget music videos to creating internationally acclaimed studio albums, it is not merely self-congratulatory. “All decisions we made is based on our circumstance… / Us and them, but we worlds apart,” Simz observes, an acknowledgement that hard work does not solely determine success due to factors such as systematic racism.
In “Little Q, Pt. 2,” Simz raps from the perspective of her cousin, recounting his near-death experience of being stabbed. The song simmers with frustration and vivid storytelling, bringing listeners into the tough, violent world of her cousin’s accident. The connections Simz draws to other perspectives throughout the album highlight a strength of SIMBI: as much as it is a dissection of Simz’s inner feelings, the tracks unfolding as if she were laying each of her ribs on an examination table, it never becomes self-absorbed.
Despite Simz’s addressal of societal issues and complex emotions, she never loses herself in pessimism. Instead, she transitions seamlessly from intimate, confessional rap to exuberant assertions. Tracks like “Rollin Stone,” anchored by a grimy and raw beat you’d hear while jostling amongst sweaty bodies in a club, or “Speed,” a defiant proclamation of Simz’s ambition, remind listeners of her multidimensionality.
Whereas the lighter tracks succeed at rounding out SIMBI’s contemplative points, the lengthy interludes fall short of being a respite from the album. Vapid statements, ranging from “Your mind is the most powerful tool” in “The Rapper That Came to Tea” to “Pressure makes diamonds” in “Gems,” turn the interludes into dead weight.
Despite the lyrical shortcomings of these interludes, even they succeed in crafting rich, Alice-in-Wonderland-like textures. The sheer lushness of SIMBI’s production is a highlight in and of itself, turning the album into less of a listen and more of a full-bodied revelation. While this is not necessarily a recipe for radio stardom, Simz makes art that lives and breathes.
Treading the tightrope between self-assurance and vulnerability, Simz paints a picture of her life with all the nuance of an introvert. “I write words for a livin’ and still can’t communicate,” she confesses in the closing track “Miss Understood.” However, by the album’s end, it feels as if one has experienced everything from self-doubt to bravado — Simz has successfully substantiated the gargantuan.