Musicians are among those who have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 shutdowns. Live music, most musicians’ primary way of earning income in this day of streaming, is on hold in most places for at least the remainder of 2020 and possibly all of 2021 as well. Bands can’t gather in person to play or record, and if the number of video conference jam sessions I’ve seen are any indicator, a Zoom call is not a substitute for being in person.
The one upside of everyone being stuck in their homes for weeks on end is that there is theoretically more time to create, especially for solo artists. London rapper Little Simz used her forced downtime to create a new EP, which dropped last month. It is just the medicine we need to get through these scary times.
The EP starts off with “Might Bang, Might Not” a burst of frenetic energy that seems to unleash weeks of pent up nervous energy.
“If I give you my time and give you my space
Know that shit’s not to waste, yo
Still better know your place, yo
Ain’t slept good in days, yo”
From there the EP goes into the jazzy anthem “One Life, Might Live,” with its chorus of “I got one life and I might just live it.” The verses are just Simz rapping over an acoustic bass, with booming drums kicking in at the chorus.
The last three songs are more subdued, with a quiet Karl Banx beat that devolves into a squeal of feedback over the mumbled chorus. Simz explores her search for spirituality and grappling with her newfound fame:
“What do I believe? I tried the mosque and I tried the church
Now I’m just spiritual, I had to think about what I was living for
How on Earth did I speak to the masses?
Easiest song that I made was a classic
They get fifteen minutes here and then they vanish”
“You Should Call Mum” has a dance-oriented beat and actual hook at the chorus, but is still quiet and reserved. I don’t know if she was having a particularly rough and solitary time when she recorded it, but there is a lack of energy compared to the other tracks.
The EP ends on a strong note, with “Where’s My Lighter.” Alewya lends her haunting voice to the track, and OTG’s beat with its piano and clicking drum creates a spooky, introspective landscape for Simz’s rhymes.
“Drop 6” is a quieter affair than “Grey Area,” but it doesn’t feel tossed off. It manages to sound both isolating and uplifting at the same time, and really shows an artist who is honing their loneliness and boredom into creativity. It has helped me get through these long and strange months, and I highly recommend it.