When you think about London, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Royal Family? Big Ben? Topboy? The British accents you secretly wish you had? What about the rap game? British hip-hop or grime— as it’s commonly referred to in the U.K.— is often overlooked in the U.S. and we’re missing out big time. One of the U.K.’s biggest rap gems is Little Simz.
Though we were in Brooklyn, through Khalil’s set, opening acts and Little Simz rhymes, the A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons tour took us on an audio journey to London.
Khalil of Living Proof warmed up the budding crowd with an introduction into grime — which featured tracks like Skepta’s “Shutdown” and Shakka’s “She Nada”— while blending it into a few more familiar songs like “Antidote”. As Rough Trade began to fill in, DJ, musician, and curator, Melo-X hit the stage. The crowd got hype as the Brooklyn bred artist performed tracks from his latest EP, CURATE. Melo’s presence is commendable, he took the party from the stage to the heart of the crowd as his tracks played. Before his set was up, Melo gave some shine to a new young collective that he’s working with named NXGN.cabnet.
In between sets, Khalil paid tribute to hip-hop legend, Phife Dawg, with an A Tribe Called Quest set.
Soon the King herself, Little Simz, blessed the stage. Simz opened up with the first 8 tracks of her debut album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. The 22 year old rapper opened up with the crowd about being inconsiderate to her neighbor on “God Bless Mary”. By the time she finished the track, the entire venue was shouting “God bless Mary”.
As soon as the words “Have you guys ever seen a dead body,” left Simz’ mouth the crowd wild out. Moshpits and crowdsurfing from Melo-X ensued as she performed her hit “Dead Body”. Later into her set, Simz invited Bibi Bourelly — singer and songwriter of “Bitch Better Have My Money”—to the stage to perform their collab, “Interlude” from Age 101: Drop X. As Simz played the guitar, Bibi referred to her as Simbi Hendrix. All in all, Little Simz’ performance, stage presence, and inspiring moves as an independent artist with her own record label was enough to turn me from a first time listener into a new fan.
A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is currently available on iTunes. Watch Melo-X’s latest video for “FFFS” featuring Little Simz below:
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