Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Little Simz’ surprise album NO THANK YOU offers a helping voice amid growing societal pressures


Release date: 16 December 2022
Little Simz NO THANK YOU album artwork
16 December 2022, 15:00 Written by Elliot Burr

Even with a Mercury Prize securely under Little Simz’ belt, the London rapper contemplates how her sky-high limit could be foiled by the powers that be.

There are hopefully not too many strangers to Little Simz. Alongside prime-time acting roles on her CV, her musical output spans anthemic soundscapes, flowing bars, and hypnotic R&B that has taken UK rap music to pastures new. Without holding back on the hard-nosed determinism of the scene’s best, that fury glows just as candidly as Simz’ self-examinations.

NO THANK YOU arrives frankly and surprisingly only a year after Simz’ acclaimed list-smasher Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Too soon, maybe? A fleeting bout of off-cuts that Simz and close collaborator Inflo decided were good enough to make as a companion piece?

The contrasting opening tracks swiftly put that theory of slap-dash songwriting to bed. “Angel,” not quite exploding with the orchestral splendour of her last record’s opener, is a blissful beckoning into Simz’ confessional. The understated neo-soul beat floats along gently, juxtaposed by a purposeful (if not justified) vocal delivery, duly fighting into the movie screen-bursting drum slams and horns of “Gorilla.” Simz rattles through nonchalant rhymes and half-rhymes with all the effortless cheek of Phife Dawg and Q-Tip. Whether a homage to Tribe or not (the simplistic bass centred instrumental sounds like “Excursions” refitted), implementing these sounds alongside a gospel choir could’ve gone haywire. Even for a track that feels more like Simz and Inflo trading chucklesome improvs during a recording break, it wins.

In true Simz fashion, conscious reflections unfold over the producer’s sprawling arrangements. NO THANK YOU makes certain that every gap is filled tastefully: bellowed vocal ad-libs and melodies (“X”); tasteful guitar tinkles (“Who Even Cares”); or sampled vocal interjections (“Heart On Fire” or “Sideways”). Equally inventive, “Silhouette” sweeps fluidly into a smart percussion piece underpinning its gospel refrain “Find your way / Find your faith / God's with you always” – a more spiritual angle to the album’s PMA focus.

“No Merci” instead finds some respite in throwing the corporate greed of the music industry under the bus. The instrumental has enough wiggle room to build a string section behind Simz’ newfound freedom, made all the more volatile when her eventual cynicism cuts like a knife: they hoping I relapse.” Likewise, the repeated take on “Broken”“when you're feeling broken and you cannot fix it”emphasises Simz’ saddening examination of the taboo nature of loneliness, stress and trauma in the Black community.

A trusted mouthpiece on societal pressures across these tracks, Simz’ recovery of diminishing self-worth carries the most weight, acting as supportive teacher for the disillusioned through her own lived experience. The craftily pronounced titular phrase on “No Merci” may highlight the merciless nature of the world, but it backs all of us to powerfully reply ‘thanks, but no thanks, we’ll be better off in the end’.

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