Our Take: Little Simz Proves She Never Drops Anything “Little” With Thrilling ‘Drop 7’ EP

Little Simz 'Drop 7' © Karolina Wielcoha
Little Simz 'Drop 7' © Karolina Wielcoha

Connor's Take

8 Music Quality
8 Production
10 Content Originality
9 Memorability
7 Lyricism
8 Sonic Diversity
8 Arranging
On ‘Drop 7,’ her 12th extended play release, Little Simz delivers a diverse sonic landscape full of flair and experimentation, proving even this far in she is far from out of creative steam.
Stream: ‘Drop 7’ – Little Simz

Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, or Little Simz, has released more EPs than the Saw series has released films.

This is in addition to a prolific film acting career, the release of multiple studio albums, and a starring role in a Netflix series. With so much going on, it would be very, very easy to get stretched thin. Ajikawo, however, does not drop anything lightly.

During an interview with NPR in 2015, before she had even signed to a music label, she expressed:

I definitely knew what I wanted to do so early on. I was always just an ambitious kid from early. I always knew that I had a purpose and I was destined for something big, great. I now just continue that I’ve been through a lot in this, in trying to pursue this dream.

Nine years later, her fire has not even come close to fizzling. She would not be one to take even an “extended release” as a break from her longer releases. And on Drop 7 (released February 9, 2024 via Forever Living Originals / AWAL Recordings),  it’s clear that her incredible output comes in part out of a genuine desire to express a myriad of musical ideas.

Drop 7 - Little Simz
Drop 7 – Little Simz

Her ambition comes across right off the bat with “Mood Swings.” The entire feel of the song reminds one of running through a busy, surreal street. One can easily imagine Little Simz feels thrown into some combination of The Fifth Element’s vision of New York and the Cyber railways from Deltarune. The song provides something of a summation of where she is currently at with this project, rapping:

I’ve been all around town
bass thuddin’,
drown as these sounds come in
I’ve been on a high, low,
free souls go only where the love is

Her vocal performance on the track offers a veritable showcase in how to use rising intensity. The track begins with an understated voice. She adds a layer of forcefulness as the drums kick in and she rattles off multiple rhetorical questions:

How many times did I make them know?
Why they wanna disrupt, kill my flow?
How many times did I switch timezone?
But the LD will always be home

She reverts back to an understated performance after, but now more instruments have come in, providing a “spiraling” effect. The second time the drums kick in, she explodes onto the mic. Once again she asks rhetorical questions, but they’re more pointed, direct and aggressive now. The song expresses someone having rapid mood swings without becoming desperate or overbearing in its execution.

The EP features such a strong, central musical identity, and a unique one at that. The way Ajikawo creates a consistent musical soundscape while refraining from being predictable makes her thrilling to listen to. The second track, “Fever,” combines the forward thinking instrumental flourishes of “Mood Swings” with funk mandelão, a type of Brazilian dance music. And she raps with dizzying speed on “Torch,” where she asks “wanna’ see some more?” in a hilarious, condescending tone.

While the first three tracks on the EP hit right away, the fourth track “SOS” takes a couple of listens. Compared to how immediately gripping every other track on the EP felt, it’s more repetitive – and yet it grows on the listener. There is love and patience put into the mixing and layering here. The constant thumping would serve this track well in a club setting, and when Little Simz’s vocals arrive at around the minute and a half mark, the echoey, ethereal effect gives her a sense of commanding grandeur.

Little Simz 'Drop 7' © Karolina Wielcoha
Little Simz ‘Drop 7’ © Karolina Wielcoha

Things really go full throttle with the next track, “I Ain’t Feelin It.” The track only clocks in at 1:47, but it conveys a considerable amount of emotional expression and creativity. Highlights include the spinning beat on this song, the rhyme cadence, and a performance that fluctuates between poised hunter and breathy desperation. We have never heard Little Simz sound the way she does on this track when she says:

… Well, well, well, well, well (brrt)
Know some people waitin’ on the day for me to fail
Never going back to bein’ broke, man, can’t you tell?
Talk behind my back and then they go into a shell (shell)
Shell (shell), shell (shell), shell when they see me

These lyrics and the way she delivers them are a combination of truly odd, and sneering, that it creates a really compelling effect.

Power” features the least amount of sonic flourishes and clocks in at under an hour, but Ajikawo carries it through her fantastic flow and a wry sense of humor, comparing an ex-boyfriend to “Judas” and rattling off comedic boasting.

Finally, the song “Far Away” truly lets her musical inspirations shine. The distant horns and wistful lyrics like “now my pillow calls your name” exemplifies the profound impact Nina Simone had on her, but this combines with a truly spacey instrumental that would feel at home on an early Daniel Caesar album. Of special note is the extremely subtle rising cello sound towards the last 30 seconds of the track. It adds a level of cinematic significance to the EP’s close.

Ajikawo’s NPR interview from almost a decade ago made it clear how driven, artistically curious and dynamic she was. Despite how every musical work she has dropped since has featured a new, distinct sonic landscape, her curiosity and ambition remain the same. When on the track “Power” she says, “If I said that I’m the greatest then I mean it,” I believe it.

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:: stream/purchase Drop 7 here ::
:: connect with Little Simz here ::

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Drop 7 - Little Simz

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