Certain rappers have voices so distinctive that you can pick them out in the first four bars. The Tribe track “Busta’s Lament” is a great example of this phenomenon; instantly, Busta makes his presence known by rhythmically repeating the word “yo.” Nicki Minaj has a similar effect; from the first syllable of the verse, it’s clear that Ms. Minaj is on the track. Certain voices assert their presences and grab the listener’s attention from the get-go.
Photo courtesy of Little Simz
Islington rapper Little Simz’s flow had a similar effect on me the other day. While I first listened to “The Square,” I feel her new release, “Time Capsule,” best highlights her strengths. From the first sixteen bars, the 20 year-old bursts onto the track with a surge of confidence.
They put me down as the one to watch/
Haters put me down as the one to stop/
I can’t even lie, tick all of the boxes/
Still I’m thinking outside the box.
The track oscillates between Simz declaring her dominance over other rappers and reassuring a younger self that the challenges she will face will eventually lead to greatness. This back and forth is not surprising; her other recordings range in subject matter from calling out the music industry to procrastinating on homework assignments while watching Breaking Bad. I’m certainly not the only one who’s impressed by Little Simz’s lyrical abilities. In this typically male-dominated industry, Little Simz was one of three women on Complex Magazine’s 25 rappers to watch list, so she has no choice but to bring her A-game. While the American hip hop market can be rather unforgiving, I hope that Little Simz will make a space for herself at the table.