REVIEW: Little Simz Cements Herself As One Of The UK’s Finest With ‘NO THANK YOU’

Tom Atkinson

By Tom Atkinson

Tom Atkinson

19 Dec 2022

Little Simz has had a great 2022, sweeping up award after award including the Mercury Prize, a BRIT, and a MOBO award. Her previous release ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert,’ was a sensational record that touched on everything from her lack of a relationship with her father to positive womanhood. It cemented Simbi’s status as one of the top lyricists in the U.K., following up the equally impressive ‘GREY Area.’

And yet, we have been blessed with another fantastic LP in the form of ‘NO THANK YOU.’ A surprise release in the month of December, it was certainly welcomed and showed the last month of the year can have some great releases as shown by this and SZA’s new album. Once again in collaboration with producer extraordinaire Inflo, we have another masterpiece. Cleo Sol, who at this point is Little Simz’s other partner in crime is present on many tracks, showing off her sensational vocals.

From the opening track ‘Angel,’ we can see Simz is coming for the jugular with hard-hitting flows and lyricism as she reflects on the issues of the industry and her place in the scene. This is contrasted by the mellow production with its soothing background vocals. Cleo Sol shines on the chorus, showing why a collab album between both artists is very much needed. The added instruments as the track goes on are a nice touch. This is a sensational start to the record, and it only gets better from there.

Inflo’s production throughout this album is not only a testament to his relationship with Simz but also his use of interpolations. The interpolations of A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Can I Kick It?’ and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘N95’ match the smooth flows on ‘Gorilla.’ Meanwhile on ‘Who Even Cares,’ there is a nice use of a Daft Punk sample to match the autotuned, melodic delivery. He knows exactly what instrumental is right at every moment.

“Say, he never called another woman “mi amor”

So, I opened up the way and now he adore”

Little Simz on ‘Gorilla

The themes of this album reflect on many issues with Simz tackling her exploitation by the record industry and her own issues with mental health. ‘Silhouette’ does the latter by highlighting the pain felt when moving on from a friendship. This is also one of several tracks to end with an instrumental passage which adds to the atmosphere of the track with its mix of drums and the choir.

No Merci’ is a message of substance as Little Simz focuses on the exploitation of not just herself, but black society in general. The hard-hitting flows and bouncy synths bring the energy to this message of fighting the record industry, as the listener is given contract advice. The big and epic brass at the end brings things nicely to a close and cements the song as one of the album’s best.

“Undervalued, under-appreciated in the workplace

Why I give you my ideas in the first place?

Know how you contribute, they tell you “describe how”

You ask for a pay rise and they raisin’ they eyebrows”

Little Simz on X

Mental health is focused on during the soulful ‘Broken.’ Through a mixture of Alice in Wonderland esque choir vocals, impactful lyrics, and a hard-hitting chorus, she translates well this theme through several different stories. It delivers a message of coming through turmoil and sending positivity to women in various situations superbly, as they navigate life in this country. Clearly, Simz has been going through it, and it’s good to see she is telling her story to help others in their own battles.

Sideways’ samples the song of the same name by Cleo Sol but is the weakest of the tracks. Between its minimalist beat, similar themes, and solid but not ground-breaking bars, it doesn’t quite hit the same as the rest of the project. It still works in the grander scheme of the album and continues an album that flows well from one track to the next.

We conclude on a high musically and thematically on ‘Control,’ which is all about falling in love. The simple, melodic piano beat fits the tone well and Kojo’s sensational vocals throughout are a great touch. After all the heavy and dark themes of the album, it’s a nice way to conclude the project, and it is great to see she is in a better place.

Little Simz continues to cement herself as a U.K. great and having released three sensational records in a row, she surely must be considered one of the finest in Hip-Hop. This album is yet another step in this rapper’s story that dissects the exploitation in the industry and the mental health struggles in the black community.

Many will now debate which is the best album from Simbiatu Ajikawo, with that being something that will continue for some time. For me, this is yet another U.K. classic and at just 28 years old, there’s plenty left in the tank from one of the British G.O.A.Ts.