Published Sep 18, 2015Little Simz's rise over the past couple of years has been nothing short of impressive. The 21-year-old North London MC demonstrated her lyrical prowess and versatility on several mixtapes that she started recording at the age of 15. Having got a seal of approval from Kendrick Lamar, among many others singing her praises, Little Simz at last dropping her debut album A Curious Tale of Trials +Persons on her own Age 101 label today (September 18).
One of the prominent themes on the album, and of tracks like "Dead Body" co-produced by Torontonian Prezident Jeff, is dealing with fame. Performing at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall in August along with several other UK hip-hop and grime artists for a BBC concert definitely gave Little Simz much food for thought on this topic.
"Yeah, the Royal Albert Hall was sick, man," Little Simz tells Exclaim! "Just the fact that I played with a 70-piece orchestra and knowing that is such an iconic venue… to be able to play music that I've written in my bedroom in that venue is very, very surreal, but it just kinda put everything into perspective in terms of being on the right path and this is what I'm going to be doing."
,br> The performance put her on stage next to grime artists like Stormzy, who opened the show with his UK hit "Know Me From," but Little Simz — who counts Stormzy as a friend and is genuinely enthused by the success Skepta and other grime artists are beginning to reap in North America — is quick to point out that she herself is not a grime artist.
"I'm not trying to be labeled, it's human if that's the case," says Little Simz. "They always like to put rappers in a box over here. It's just frustrating. Why can't people be who they are without being put in a box or labelled? It's been a bit absurd to be completely honest, and that's how we feel about the current situation. So when I go off and I say don't call me a grime artist, I'm not being anal about it. I'm just trying to let you know that I don't see myself as that. Obviously, I can't control other people's perceptions, but I'm just telling you that's not what I am and I would appreciate it that you don't refer to me as that."
Given that Little Simz also has a background as an actress appearing on a TV series, you can see why she doesn't want to be pigeonholed. Especially as she envisions continuing pursuing her acting further.
"Yeah, 100 percent, it's just more so when the time is right," says Little Simz. "My focus is the record right now. It's hard to have an acting and music career at the same time. It's possible to do it within a lifetime, but to balance it, it's quite hard to do and manage so it's not worth rushing it and if it's an album [and acting at the same time] I'm not going to get the best out of myself and what I can truly do seriously, so I'd just rather take my time and master my art and my craft."